Monitoring access barriers to health services in the Americas: a mapping of household surveys

Houghton et al.


To map the range of access barriers indicators for which data can be derived from household surveys in the Americas.


A systematic mapping review study was conducted to identify access dimensions and indicators of access barriers for general health services already described in the literature; and identify whether data for those indicators could be derived from household surveys in the Americas and what was the methodology used in these surveys.


The study found 49 eligible surveys (287 datasets) from 31 countries in the Americas from which 23 measures of access barriers could be generated. These indicators measure self-reported access barriers for unmet healthcare needs through forgone care, as well as delayed care, unsatisfaction with care and experiences during health service provision. Multiple barriers could be identified, although there was marked heterogeneity in variables included and how barriers were measured.


This study identified tracer indicators that countries in the Americas could use to monitor the population that experience healthcare needs but fail to seek and obtain appropriate healthcare, and what the main barriers are. The surveys identified are well validated and allow the disaggregation of these indicators by equity stratifiers. Given the variability of the methodologies used in these surveys, comparability across countries could be limited. As such, their virtue lies in helping stakeholders compare levels of access barriers over time for a given country or a group of countries. Country buy-in will directly affect the extent to which access barriers data are collected, reported, and used.

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