Assessing Perceived Barriers to Health Care Access for Resettled Refugees in the Western United States
AbstractRefugee health in the United States is an understudied subject, particularly on the West Coast. Little is known about the health needs of diverse refugee groups in the country outside of their initial health assessments upon entering the country for resettlement. This project explored perceived barriers to health care for refugees in three areas: Seattle/King County, Washington; Los Angeles, California; and Tucson, Arizona. Interviews and surveys were conducted with a range of key informants in each area to understand more about refugee health needs. The interviews revealed a wide range of perceived barriers, including: acculturation, language and communication, and unmet mental health needs. These barriers, both on the demand side and the supply side, are complex, inter-related, long-standing, and in many cases, not unique to resettled refugees. Some could be addressed with additional funding and the development of new programs, although most do not lend themselves to simple or short-term solutions, even with additional investments, but instead require sustained interventions across multiple sectors to address health system issues and social determinants of health. The paper discusses priority areas for policy consideration that could help reduce barriers, address gaps in care, and improve health for resettled refugees.
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