Ethnic inequities in health outcomes and healthcare access is a longstanding public health concern in the UK, but ethnic inequities in children's use of healthcare services has often been overlooked.
A scoping review by Claire Zhang, Maria Quigley, Clare Bankhead, Thomas Bentley, Claire Otasowie and Claire Carson found that 61 studies had been published on this topic in the UK in the last two decades. The majority of these studies found ethnic differences across a range of healthcare services.
Those that specifically examined inequities (i.e. unequal healthcare use that is unfair and disproportionate to need) were situated in primary and preventive care. However, the quality of the current body of evidence limited its usefulness in informing policy and practice. For example, some studies lacked the sample size to study smaller ethnic groups, and instead combined them into larger groups like 'Mixed and Other' which couldn't be interpreted meaningfully.
The different classification systems used to categorise ethnic groups also limited the ability to compare findings between studies. Studies lacked the use of theoretical frameworks to guide their analysis and interpretation, and very few examined the relationship between parental ethnicity and children's healthcare use. Based on these challenges and with the help of a Patient and Public Involvement group, the researchers developed a set of recommendations to improve the quality of future research in this field.