A Pilot Qualitative Study on the Supply and Demand for Health Services in Migrant and Refugee Hosting Centers in Greece

  • Provias G B.Sc, M.Sc (c), RN, Diavata Refugee Camp, Thessaloniki, Greece.
  • Perperidou P B.Sc, M.Sc (c), RN, Diavata Refugee Camp, Thessaloniki, Greece.
  • Kosmidis D M.Sc, Ph.D, RN, Kavala General Hospital, Kavala, Greece.
  • Fountouki A M.Sc, Ph.D(c), Department of Nursing, International Hellenic University, Thessaloniki, Greece.
  • Theofanidis D M.Sc, Ph.D, Department of Nursing, International Hellenic University, Thessaloniki, Greece.
Keywords: Migration, Healthcare, Ethnography, Qualitative Design.


Introduction: Migration and mobile populations constitute a main determining factor for change in demand and supply of a host country’s healthcare services.

Aim: The purpose of this pilot ethnographic study is to explore the factors affecting health care provided at the infirmary of a Migrant Refugee Hosting Centers in Greece, by elaborating on the views and lived experiences of both camp residents and healthcare workers.

Materials and Methods: A qualitative design was adopted and data was obtained via in-depth face-to-face interviews, using two focus groups namely camp residents and camp medical staff. Interviews were semi-structured with both closed and open questions. The interviews lasted 40-60 minutes but were not recorded. Instead, detailed field notes were taken. Data were analyzed via content analysis and specific extracts were used to illustrate points of interest. Anonymity and data confidentiality was secured.

Results: Data analysis revealed subthemes and particular points of interest, namely, the degree of utilization of the doctors’ office; the frequency of referrals to tertiary hospitals; the way that living conditions affect the health of the camp’s population; and the degree that the epidemiological profile of the camp population affects the supply and demand of the health services offered in the camp.

Discussion: This pilot study exposed a greater need for primary health services especially those that prevent and treat patients at risk of developing chronic disease as a camp population of different cultures can bring a different set of problems, especially for new arrivals. In this context, not just the medical but all the camp personnel per se need more training to understand and cope with cultural diversity especially as conflict may reside within simple cultural or ethnic differences. Thus, the target of a camp’s mission is to establish a high degree of harmony in everyday life despite adverse conditions.

Conclusions: The interviews with the camp’s residents have revealed interesting aspects of their living reality further confirmed by the medical staff dealing with their health care needs. More investigations need to take place concerning this dynamic phenomenon as the very people in today’s camps are not the same as they were ‘yesterday’ i.e. when they arrived.