Disparities in vaccine-preventable disease (VPD) burden and immunisation coverage between migrants and refugees and their host populations have been described in numerous countries worldwide. Effective strategies are required to reduce the health disparities and immunisation inequities experienced by migrants and refugees.
Using Arksey and O’Malley’s framework, we conducted a scoping review to identify available literature on interventions aimed at reducing VPD burden among migrants and refugees worldwide. We searched for relevant empirical, peer-reviewed literature published in English between 2006 and 2018 using MEDLINE, Ovid EMBASE, CINAHL, Sociological Abstracts, and Web of Science databases. Relevant information from the studies, including intervention type, details and outcomes, were charted in Microsoft Excel and results were summarised using a descriptive analytical method.
Seventy studies met the inclusion criteria. The number of published studies increased over the years. The majority of studies were conducted in high-income countries. More studies were conducted among migrants (not including refugees) (n = 48, 66%) than specifically among refugees (n = 25, 34%). Interventions were implemented in a variety of settings, including health care (n = 31, 42%), community (n = 29, 39%), off-shore (n = 7, 9%), national (n = 4, 5%), school (n = 2, 3%), and workplace (n = 1, 1%). Studies reported interventions focused at the individual (to facilitate uptake of health services) (n = 4, 5%), community (to raise awareness) (n = 25, 34%), provider (to offer health services) (n = 12, 16%) and/or system (to increase compliance with recommendations) (n = 33, 45%) level. To be effective, interventions were designed to overcome commonly identified barriers to accessing services related to language, culture, distance and cost. Engagement with community members and organisations was an effective way to co-design interventions that address migrants’ specific needs.
Studies emphasised the importance of interventions that address the heterogeneity within and between migrant and refugee populations. Considerable variation in practice remains, therefore more evaluation of interventions is needed to inform policy and programme decision-making.