Year: 2020 Source: Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidermiology. (2020). First Published Online 16 June 2020. SIEC No: 20200524


There is a lack of research on whether healthcare use before and after a suicide attempt differs between refugees and the host population. We aimed to investigate if the patterns of specialised (inpatient and specialised outpatient) psychiatric and somatic healthcare use, 3 years before and after a suicide attempt, differ between refugees and the Swedish-born individuals in Sweden. Additionally, we aimed to explore if specialised healthcare use differed among refugee suicide attempters according to their sex, age, education or receipt of disability pension.


All refugees and Swedish-born individuals, 20–64 years of age, treated for suicide attempt in specialised healthcare during 2004–2013 (n = 85,771 suicide attempters, of which 4.5% refugees) were followed 3 years before and after (Y − 3 to Y + 3) the index suicide attempt (t0) regarding their specialised healthcare use. Annual adjusted prevalence with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of specialised healthcare use were assessed by generalized estimating equations (GEE). Additionally, in analyses among the refugees, GEE models were stratified by sex, age, educational level and disability pension.


Compared to Swedish-born, refugees had lower prevalence rates of psychiatric and somatic healthcare use during the observation period. During Y + 1, 25% (95% CI 23–28%) refugees and 30% (95% CI 29–30%) Swedish-born used inpatient psychiatric healthcare. Among refugees, a higher specialised healthcare use was observed in disability pension recipients than non-recipients.


Refugees used less specialised healthcare, before and after a suicide attempt, relative to the Swedish-born. Strengthened cultural competence among healthcare professionals and better health literacy among the refugees may improve healthcare access in refugees.