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author:("weltel, Marta")
1.  Changes in the Provision of Institutionalized Mental Health Care in Post-Communist Countries 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e38490.
Background
General psychiatric and forensic psychiatric beds, supported housing and the prison population have been suggested as indicators of institutionalized mental health care. According to the Penrose hypothesis, decreasing psychiatric bed numbers may lead to increasing prison populations. The study aimed to assess indicators of institutionalized mental health care in post-communist countries during the two decades following the political change, and to explore whether the data are consistent with the Penrose hypothesis in that historical context.
Methodology/Principal Findings
General psychiatric and forensic psychiatric bed numbers, supported housing capacities and the prison population rates were collected in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, East Germany, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia and Slovenia. Percentage change of indicators over the decades 1989–1999, 1999–2009 and the whole period of 1989–2009 and correlations between changes of different indicators were calculated. Between 1989 and 2009, the number of general psychiatric beds was reduced in all countries. The decrease ranged from −11% in Croatia to −51% in East Germany. In 2009, the bed numbers per 100,000 population ranged from 44.7 in Azerbaijan to 134.4 in Latvia. Forensic psychiatric bed numbers and supported housing capacities increased in most countries. From 1989–2009, trends in the prison population ranged from a decrease of −58% in East Germany to an increase of 43% in Belarus and Poland. Trends in different indicators of institutionalised care did not show statistically significant associations.
Conclusions/Significance
After the political changes in 1989, post-communist countries experienced a substantial reduction in general psychiatric hospital beds, which in some countries may have partly been compensated by an increase in supported housing capacities and more forensic psychiatric beds. Changes in the prison population are inconsistent. The findings do not support the Penrose hypothesis in that historical context as a general rule for most of the countries.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038490
PMCID: PMC3371010  PMID: 22715387
2.  Mental health care for irregular migrants in Europe: Barriers and how they are overcome 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:367.
Background
Irregular migrants (IMs) are exposed to a wide range of risk factors for developing mental health problems. However, little is known about whether and how they receive mental health care across European countries. The aims of this study were (1) to identify barriers to mental health care for IMs, and (2) to explore ways by which these barriers are overcome in practice.
Methods
Data from semi-structured interviews with 25 experts in the field of mental health care for IMs in the capital cities of 14 European countries were analysed using thematic analysis.
Results
Experts reported a range of barriers to mental health care for IMs. These include the absence of legal entitlements to health care in some countries or a lack of awareness of such entitlements, administrative obstacles, a shortage of culturally sensitive care, the complexity of the social needs of IMs, and their fear of being reported and deported. These barriers can be partly overcome by networks of committed professionals and supportive services. NGOs have become important initial points of contact for IMs, providing mental health care themselves or referring IMs to other suitable services. However, these services are often confronted with the ethical dilemma of either acting according to the legislation and institutional rules or providing care for humanitarian reasons, which involves the risk of acting illegally and providing care without authorisation.
Conclusions
Even in countries where access to health care is legally possible for IMs, various other barriers remain. Some of these are common to all migrants, whilst others are specific for IMs. Attempts at improving mental health care for IMs should consider barriers beyond legal entitlement, including communicating information about entitlement to mental health care professionals and patients, providing culturally sensitive care and ensuring sufficient resources.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-367
PMCID: PMC3528475  PMID: 22607386
Irregular migrants; Mental health care; Access to care; Barriers to care; Legal entitlement; Overcoming barriers; Europe
3.  Health care for irregular migrants: pragmatism across Europe. A qualitative study 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:99.
Background
Health services in Europe face the challenge of delivering care to a heterogeneous group of irregular migrants (IM). There is little empirical evidence on how health professionals cope with this challenge. This study explores the experiences of health professionals providing care to IM in three types of health care service across 16 European countries.
Results
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with health professionals in 144 primary care services, 48 mental health services, and 48 Accident & Emergency departments (total n = 240). Although legal health care entitlement for IM varies across countries, health professionals reported facing similar issues when caring for IM. These issues include access problems, limited communication, and associated legal complications. Differences in the experiences with IM across the three types of services were also explored. Respondents from Accident & Emergency departments reported less of a difference between the care for IM patients and patients in a regular situation than did respondents from primary care and mental health services. Primary care services and mental health services were more concerned with language barriers than Accident & Emergency departments. Notifying the authorities was an uncommon practice, even in countries where health professionals are required to do this.
Conclusions
The needs of IM patients and the values of the staff appear to be as important as the national legal framework, with staff in different European countries adopting a similar pragmatic approach to delivering health care to IM. While legislation might help to improve health care for IM, more appropriate organisation and local flexibility are equally important, especially for improving access and care pathways.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-99
PMCID: PMC3315408  PMID: 22340424
Irregular migrants; Europe; Qualitative method; Health services; Accessibility
4.  Health care for immigrants in Europe: Is there still consensus among country experts about principles of good practice? A Delphi study 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:699.
Background
European Member States are facing a challenge to provide accessible and effective health care services for immigrants. It remains unclear how best to achieve this and what characterises good practice in increasingly multicultural societies across Europe. This study assessed the views and values of professionals working in different health care contexts and in different European countries as to what constitutes good practice in health care for immigrants.
Methods
A total of 134 experts in 16 EU Member States participated in a three-round Delphi process. The experts represented four different fields: academia, Non-Governmental Organisations, policy-making and health care practice. For each country, the process aimed to produce a national consensus list of the most important factors characterising good practice in health care for migrants.
Results
The scoring procedures resulted in 10 to 16 factors being identified as the most important for each participating country. All 186 factors were aggregated into 9 themes: (1) easy and equal access to health care, (2) empowerment of migrants, (3) culturally sensitive health care services, (4) quality of care, (5) patient/health care provider communication, (6) respect towards migrants, (7) networking in and outside health services, (8) targeted outreach activities, and (9) availability of data about specificities in migrant health care and prevention. Although local political debate, level of immigration and the nature of local health care systems influenced the selection and rating of factors within each country, there was a broad European consensus on most factors. Yet, discordance remained both within countries, e.g. on the need for prioritising cultural differences, and between countries, e.g. on the need for more consistent governance of health care services for immigrants.
Conclusions
Experts across Europe asserted the right to culturally sensitive health care for all immigrants. There is a broad consensus among experts about the major principles of good practice that need to be implemented across Europe. However, there also is some disagreement both within and between countries on specific issues that require further research and debate.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-699
PMCID: PMC3182934  PMID: 21914194
5.  Good practice in health care for migrants: views and experiences of care professionals in 16 European countries 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:187.
Background
Health services across Europe provide health care for migrant patients every day. However, little systematic research has explored the views and experiences of health care professionals in different European countries. The aim of this study was to assess the difficulties professionals experience in their service when providing such care and what they consider constitutes good practice to overcome these problems or limit their negative impact on the quality of care.
Methods
Structured interviews with open questions and case vignettes were conducted with health care professionals working in areas with high proportion of migrant populations in 16 countries. In each country, professionals in nine primary care practices, three accident and emergency hospital departments, and three community mental health services (total sample = 240) were interviewed about their views and experiences in providing care for migrant patients, i.e. from first generation immigrant populations. Answers were analysed using thematic content analysis.
Results
Eight types of problems and seven components of good practice were identified representing all statements in the interviews. The eight problems were: language barriers, difficulties in arranging care for migrants without health care coverage, social deprivation and traumatic experiences, lack of familiarity with the health care system, cultural differences, different understandings of illness and treatment, negative attitudes among staff and patients, and lack of access to medical history. The components of good practice to overcome these problems or limit their impact were: organisational flexibility with sufficient time and resources, good interpreting services, working with families and social services, cultural awareness of staff, educational programmes and information material for migrants, positive and stable relationships with staff, and clear guidelines on the care entitlements of different migrant groups. Problems and good care components were similar across the three types of services.
Conclusions
Health care professionals in different services experience similar difficulties when providing care to migrants. They also have relatively consistent views on what constitutes good practice. The degree to which these components already are part of routine practice varies. Implementing good practice requires sufficient resources and organisational flexibility, positive attitudes, training for staff and the provision of information.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-187
PMCID: PMC3071322  PMID: 21439059

Results 1-5 (5)