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NPJ Prim Care Respir Med. 2021 Dec 21;31(1):50. doi: 10.1038/s41533-021-00261-9.

Acute respiratory infections in an adult refugee population: an observational study.

NPJ primary care respiratory medicine

Alexandra Jablonka, Christian Dopfer, Christine Happle, Andree Shalabi, Martin Wetzke, Eva Hummers, Tim Friede, Stephanie Heinemann, Nele Hillermann, Anne Simmenroth, Frank Müller


  1. German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), Partner site Hannover-Braunschweig, Hannover, Germany.
  2. Department of Rheumatology and Immunology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.
  3. Department of Pediatrics, Neonatology and Allergology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.
  4. Department of General Practice, University Medical Center Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany.
  5. Department of Medical Statistics, University Medical Center Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany.
  6. Department of General Practice, University Hospital Wuerzburg, Wuerzburg, Germany.
  7. Department of General Practice, University Medical Center Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany. [email protected].

PMID: 34934070 DOI: 10.1038/s41533-021-00261-9


The presence of acute infectious respiratory diseases (ARD) is one of the main reasons why recently arrived refugees seek medical help. This paper investigates the incidence rates of acute respiratory diseases in an adult refugee population as well as associated sociodemographic factors and drug treatments. We conducted a retrospective observational study of deidentified medical records. The data were collected between 2015 and 2019 in the health care centers of two large German initial reception centers for refugees. Multivariable analyses controlling for sociodemographics were carried out using generalized estimating equations. Out of 10,431 eligible residents, 6965 medical encounters of 2840 adult patients were recorded over 30 months. Of all the adult patients, 34.4% sought medical help for a respiratory symptom or diagnosis at least once. Older patients and patients from Sub-Saharan Africa sought help less often. The occurrence of ARD showed a typical distribution over the course of the year. Facility occupancy was not associated with ARD occurrence. Acute respiratory symptoms are a leading cause for adult refugee patients to seek medical care. The doctor contact rates due to ARD were consistently two to three times higher among refugees than among German residents.

© 2021. The Author(s).


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