Barriers to accessing medicines among Syrian asylum seekers and refugees in a German federal state

Saleh Aljadeeah, Veronika J Wirtz, Eckhard Nagel

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In Germany, asylum seekers and refugees (AS&Rs) face challenges when accessing healthcare services including medicines. The aim of this study was to explore the barriers to accessing medicines among Syrian AS&Rs in the state of North Rheine-Westphalia, and to provide an understanding of their perspectives towards taking medicines that contain alcohol or pork products. This study is based on a cross-sectional survey using a combination of sampling methods. We used descriptive statistics to analyze quantitative data. Participants' answers to an open-ended question yielded qualitative data that were categorized based on the thematic areas they discussed or addressed. Among the 1641 respondents, language barriers had more of an effect on the access to medicines than any other factor studied. The effect of language barriers on access to medicines was more pronounced for female participants, those who were older than 50 years, and participants who had chronic diseases in comparison to the other groups of participants. Male participants and those younger than 50 years of age showed more acceptance towards taking medicines that contain alcohol or pork products. Based on our results, we recommend providing more support for AS&Rs to learn the German language, particularly for female refugees, older refugees, and those with chronic diseases or disabilities. We also recommend providing translated medical leaflets for patients who wish to receive them in their native language. Healthcare providers should try to consider the special conditions of AS&Rs patients and take into account their perspectives about treatments and diseases.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Male
  • Refugees
  • Syria

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