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Research study commissioned by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) Social inequality and severe courses of COVID-19 in the Swiss migrant population 2022-2024

According to current research, the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infections and severe courses of COVID-19 is socially unequally distributed. Socially disadvantaged population groups have a disproportionately higher burden of hospitalisation, intensive care, and death in all countries for which COVID-19 statistics are available to date.


Background and aim of the study

Initial studies from the USA, Canada, the UK and northern European countries suggest that, in addition to the social situation, aspects specifically associated with migration (e.g. language barriers) play an important role in relation to the risk of severe courses of COVID-19.

The study aims to provide scientifically sound information in order to enable equitable access to the health care system for vulnerable population groups and to better accompany persons in a precarious situation after a severe COVID-19 disease.

Part 1 of the study: The risk of disease in the migrant population

The first, statistical part of the study addresses the issue of disease risks in the migrant population. It aims to identify those groups of the migrant population that are at particularly high risk of a severe course or having more difficulties coping with COVID-19. For this purpose, data from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) and the medical statistics of hospitals are analysed.

Part 2 of the study: Interviews with affected persons in the migrant population

The second part of the study deals with the experiences of those affected. In Switzerland, the perspective of migrants affected by severe courses of COVID-19 has hardly been researched yet. We are particularly interested in the experiences of persons who find themselves in a difficult situation in life (e.g., low financial means, tense situation at work or at home). In order to be able to support this population group in their recovery process and reintegration into the work process and social participation, it is important to gain information about their needs and experiences with the health and social system. The focus is on their assessment of the accessibility and quality of the health care system, but also on factors that allow them to successfully cope with health and social problems at the same time.

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Part 3 of the study (optional): Recommendations for appropriate assistance

Depending on the results of the first two parts of the study, recommendations will be developed in the third part together with a broad circle of experts and cantonal and communal officials in order to be able to develop suitable assistance for affected persons that is practicable and effective.