Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Practical guidance on caring for refugees

According to an article on primary care for refugees that appears in AFP's February 15th issue, more than 600,000 refugees from more than 60 countries have resettled in the United States during the past decade. Although all refugees must pass an overseas medical screening examination to be admitted to the U.S., they often present to family physicians with musculoskeletal and pain issues, mental and social health problems, infectious diseases, and undiagnosed chronic conditions. Additional challenges to providing high-quality primary care for refugees include language barriers, cultural medical beliefs, and low health literacy levels.

It is important to be aware that persons who have immigrated into the U.S. illegally, while having much in common with legal immigrants, will be less likely to have received examinations, immunizations, and infectious disease screenings recommended in domestic refugee health guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

You can find additional information about caring for ethnic minorities in the AFP By Topic collection on Care of Special Populations.