AIM: To explore voluntary immigrant parents' experiences of child healthcare services in host countries.
DESIGN: Thomas and Harden's qualitative thematic synthesis method.
DATA SOURCES: Five electronic databases (CINAHL, Medline, PubMed, Psych INFO and Web of Science), were systematically searched from January 2000 to October 2018.
REVIEW METHODS: Included studies focused on voluntary migrant/immigrant parents' experiences of child healthcare services. Data were abstracted independently by two authors. Critical Appraisal Skills Programme tools were applied, and qualitative thematic synthesis was performed.
FINDINGS: Nine studies were eligible for inclusion. Five descriptive themes were identified: (a) seeking information and reassurance, (b) seeking information from "people like me", (c) comparison between child healthcare services in home and host countries, (d) effective communication, and (e) cultural isolation and perceived discrimination. Three analytical themes emerged: navigation of parenting in a health context in a new environment; trust; and balance.
CONCLUSIONS: Many immigrant families reported positive experiences, others felt patronised and disrespected, leading to a lack of trust and making them less willing to access universal child healthcare. Trusted advocates, who are culturally competent, have a role in helping immigrant parents navigate the child healthcare system and negotiate with healthcare professionals. Health registration of children of immigrants may encourage the uptake of universal healthcare services. More research is required into the specific health needs of voluntary immigrants.
IMPACT: Less is known about the experiences of voluntary immigrants than those of refugees/asylum seekers in accessing child healthcare. Navigating health systems is difficult. This can be due to language difficulties, differences in systems of healthcare and differences in culture/health beliefs. When both parties have some understanding of the others' healthcare practices and beliefs, balance can be found; helping the families to positively compare healthcare and incentivising them to engage in universal child healthcare.