Previous studies focusing on high-income countries have shown that young people often face greater barriers to accessing healthcare than older adults. However, in low-middle income countries (LMICs), there have been a paucity of cross-country, quantitative studies highlighting these barriers.
This exploratory study aims to provide a scoping review of the publicly available Demographic and Heath Survey (DHS) data with a view to form the basis for further work.
Materials and methods
Data on insurance coverage, agency, and access to evidence-based family planning from 30 countries in the DHS were compared between age groups. Data on 586,250 participants 15–24 years (33% male) and 854,660 participants 25–49 years (16% male) from 30 LMICs were analyzed.
Significantly greater barriers to accessing healthcare were observed across six variables in younger population when compared to older adults across all survey questions with an average of 8.4% point difference. Also, there was wide country-level variation: the maximum differences between age groups were 33% points; Rwanda was the only country with no age differences.
This study highlights several possible themes for future research into improving access to healthcare for young people. These themes include more detailed evaluation of country-specific policies to reduced barriers to healthcare for young people and further research into the causative factors that can influence healthcare utilization by young people.
Our analysis showcases increased barriers to healthcare access for young people in LMICs. We argue that they can only be improved by targeted policies and direct community engagement.