Document Type: Original Article
Department of Epidemiology and Global Health, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
The Public Health Agency of Sweden, Solna, Sweden
This study aims to assess migrant youths’ access to sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRHC) in Sweden, to examine the socioeconomic differences in their access, and to explore the reasons behind not seeking SRHC.
A cross-sectional survey was conducted for 1739 migrant youths 16 to 29 years-old during 2018. The survey was self-administered through: ordinary post, web survey and visits to schools and other venues. We measured access as a 4-stage process including: healthcare needs, perception of needs, utilisation of services and met needs.
Migrant youths faced difficulties in accessing SRHC services. Around 30% of the participants needed SRHC last year, but only one-third of them fulfilled their needs. Men and women had the same need (27.4% of men [95% CI: 24.2, 30.7] vs. 32.7% of women [95% CI: 28.2, 37.1]), but men faced more difficulties in access. Those who did not categorise themselves as men or women (50.9% [95% CI: 34.0, 67.9]), born in South Asia (SA) (39% [95% CI: 31.7, 46.4]), were waiting for residence permit (45.1% [95% CI: 36.2, 54.0]) or experienced economic stress (34.5% [95% CI: 30.7, 38.3]) had a greater need and found more difficulties in access. The main difficulties were in the step between the perception of needs and utilisation of services. The most commonly reported reasons for refraining from seeking SRHC were the lack of knowledge about the Swedish health system and available SRHC services (23%), long waiting times (7.8%), language difficulties (7.4%) and unable to afford the costs (6.4%).
There is an urgent need to improve migrant youths’ access to SRHC in Sweden. Interventions could include: increasing migrant youths’ knowledge about their rights and the available SRHC services; improving the acceptability and cultural responsiveness of available services, especially youth clinics; and improving the quality of language assistance services.
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