Public Health Crisis in the Refugee Community: Little Change in Social Determinants of Health Preserve Health Disparities
Structural inequities and lack of resources put vulnerable refugee communities at great risk. Refugees flee their country of origin to escape persecution and flee from war, famine and torture. Resettled refugee communities become particularly vulnerable during times of crisis due to limited English proficiency and poor social determinants of health (SDOH), which create barriers to attaining and sustaining health and wellbeing for themselves and their families. The purpose of this case study was to evaluate SDOH among a refugee community in the Southeastern United States. We surveyed the community twice during a 1-year period to assess various elements of SDOH. Among a primarily African and Southeast Asian refugee community, 76% reported difficulty paying for food, housing and healthcare during the first round of surveys. During the second round of surveys at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, 70% reported lost income; 58% indicated concern about paying bills. There was little change during the 12-month study period, showing that SDOH are an enduring measure of poor health and wellbeing for this vulnerable refugee community.
The Relationship Between Refugee Health Status and Language, Literacy, and Time Spent in the United States
There are 3 million refugees living in the United States today whose health and wellbeing may be diminished by not being able to understand and use health information. Little is known about these barriers to health in multiethnic refugee communities.
This present study examined (1) the relationship between English proficiency, health literacy, length of time in the US, and health status; and (2) differences in poor health status caused by limited English proficiency and low health literacy individually and in combination to better understand which barriers might be addressed by improving refugee health.