Infectious diseases of immigrants present screening systems in Finland

Abstract number: P2056

Pulakka A., Nohynek H., Ashorn P.

Objectives: The aim of this master's thesis study is to acquire detailed information on the current practices, applicability and acceptability of infectious disease (ID) screening of immigrants in different health service facilities in Finland. Suggestions on how to improve the prevailing screening practises is also asked.

Methods: The study is a cross-sectional survey utilising mixed-mode data collection method. Data is primarily collected with an electronic semi-structured questionnaire but a paper-and-pen version of the questionnaire is also available. Participants are health care professionals who work with immigrants in different settings: primary health care facilities, services for refugees, reception centres for asylum seekers, student health care facilities and occupational health clinics. Health care providers from 20 different municipalities are included, representing municipalities that received 64% of all immigrants and 76% of all refugees who came to Finland during 2007. Data collection will be done from October 2008 until the end of January 2009.

Preliminary results: Preliminary results are derived from answers of 73 respondents of whom 8 are medical doctors and 65 other health professionals: public health nurses, nurses and midwives. Over half of respondents consider ID screening very useful both for the immigrants and the society. ID testing is done to all immigrant groups and in all health care facilities. Most commonly screened IDs are hepatitis B and HIV (Table 1). Testing has identified cases of hepatitis B, tuberculosis, HIV and syphilis. 52% of the respondents are satisfied with existing instructions to conduct screening although 69% of the respondents would want to have new instructions and 86% state that more education is needed.

Conclusion: In Finland, ID screening is done to different immigrant groups and in different health care setting. Health care professionals consider screening to be useful but new instructions and education is requested.

Table 1: Testing of different infectious diseases from immigrants

DiseaseTests% of respondents who had tested this from immigrants
TuberculosisChest radiograph60
 Tuberculin skin test30
Hepatitis BSurface antigen (HBsAg)82
 Core antibody (HBcAb)56
Hepatitis CHepatitis C Antibody (HCV-Ab)66
HIVHIV antibody75
 Treponema Pallidum Haemagglutination Assay (TPHA)33
 Treponema Pallidum antibody (Trpa-Ab)22

Session Details

Date: 16/05/2009
Time: 00:00-00:00
Session name: 19th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Location: Helsinki, Finland, 16 - 19 May 2009
Presentation type:
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