Health care provided to recent asylum-seeking and non-asylum-seeking pediatric patients in 2016 and 2017 at a Swiss tertiary hospital - a retrospective study

Julia Brandenberger, Christian Pohl, Florian Vogt, Thorkild Tylleskar, Nicole Ritz

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BackgroundAsylum-seeking children represent an increasing and vulnerable group of patients whose health needs are largely unmet. Data on the health care provision to asylum-seeking children in European contexts is scarce. In this study we compare the health care provided to recent asylum-seeking and non-asylum-seeking children at a Swiss tertiary hospital.MethodsWe performed a cross-sectional retrospective study in a pediatric tertiary care hospital in Basel, Switzerland. All patients and visits from January 2016 to December 2017 were identified, using administrative and medical electronic health records. The asylum-seeking status was systematically assessed and the patients were allocated accordingly in the two study groups.ResultsA total of 202,316 visits by 55,789 patients were included, of which asylum-seeking patients accounted for 1674 (1%) visits by 439 (1%) individuals. The emergency department recorded the highest number of visits in both groups with a lower proportion in asylum-seeking compared to non-asylum-seeking children: 19% (317/1674) and 32% (64,315/200,642) respectively. The median number of visits per patient was 1 (IQR 1-2) in the asylum-seeking and 2 (IQR 1-4) in the non-asylum-seeking children. Hospital admissions were more common in asylum-seeking compared to non-asylum-seeking patients with 11% (184/1674) and 7% (14,692/200,642). Frequent visits (>15 visits per patient) accounted for 48% (807/1674) of total visits in asylum-seeking and 25% (49,886/200,642) of total visits in non-asylum-seeking patients.ConclusionsHospital visits by asylum-seeking children represented a small proportion of all visits. The emergency department had the highest number of visits in all patients but was less frequently used by asylum-seeking children. Frequent care suggests that asylum-seeking patients also present with more complex diseases. Further studies are needed, focusing on asylum-seeking children with medical complexity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number81
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Migrant and refugee health
  • Children
  • Use of health care
  • Migration patterns
  • Europe
  • health care delivery

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