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Medical needs of adolescent refugees resettling in Western Australia


Objective To investigate the medical needs and socioeconomic determinants of health among adolescent refugees resettling in Western Australia.

Design Comprehensive medical and socioeconomic health data of resettling adolescent refugees aged 12 years and above attending a Refugee Health Service over a 1-year period were analysed.

Results Medical records of 122 adolescents, median (range) age of 14 (12–17) years, were reviewed. Socioeconomic vulnerabilities included dependence on government financial support (50%), housing issues (27%) and child protection service involvement (11%). Medical concerns included non-communicable disorders (85%), infectious diseases (81%), nutrition/growth (71%) and physical symptoms of non-organic origin (43%). One quarter (27%) of female adolescents had sexual/reproductive health issues. A median (range) of 5 (2–12) health concerns were identified for each adolescent with 49% requiring referral to subspecialty services.

Conclusion Resettling adolescent refugees are socioeconomically vulnerable with a range of medical issues that frequently require additional subspecialty health referrals.

  • adolescent health
  • refugee health
  • asylum seeker
  • migration

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