Refugee Assessment

Funded by the California Department of Health Services-Refugee Health Section (CDHS/RHS), Grant 06-37-9361-01; PI: Kimberly Brouwer

Project's Final Report

Evaluations of refugee health most often focus on infectious diseases and health shortly after arrival in the United States (U.S.). There are very few assessments of long-term refugee health status and chronic diseases in resettlement countries. The following assessment is a preliminary, qualitative survey of long-term health concerns in the refugee community of San Diego.

Our assessment began with an extensive review of health and medical literature on refugees resettled to California, followed by a phone survey extended to refugee serving organizations in San Diego County to identify available resources in the community. In-depth interviews were conducted to examine perceptions, attitudes, and knowledge of:

  1. Refugee resettlement agency personnel (also known as voluntary agencies or VOLAGs),
  2. Health care workers that serve the refugee community,
  3. Volunteers/employees of community-based organizations that serve refugees (also know as mutual assistance agencies or MAAs),
  4. A small, stratified convenience sample of refugees from the 8 largest nationality groups recently settled in San Diego.

It is our hope that the findings of this assessment will be used by the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency and community organizations to improve the delivery of health care and health promotion programs to refugees. The assessment may also assist local and regional leaders in making policy decisions and identifying areas in need of greater funding and programming. The specific goals of this assessment were to:

  1. Determine the primary long-term health care needs of the major refugee groups in San Diego,
  2. Determine the main barriers to health care for the largest refugee groups of San Diego,
  3. Evaluate the best methods of accessing and sampling the full refugee population of San Diego for future health surveys and interventions focusing on identified health needs.

Specifically, current health conditions and chronic diseases were evaluated. Other topics evaluated included: socio-cultural issues affecting refugee health, health care access, health promotion, and suggestions for conducting future health assessments of refugees in San Diego.


Rondinelli AJ, Morris MD, Rodwell TC, Moser KS, Paida P, Popper ST, Brouwer KC. Under- and Over-Nutrition among Refugees in San Diego County, California. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. (E-published in advance of print publication). 

Morris MD, Popper ST, Rodwell TC, Brodine SK, Brouwer KC. (2009) Healthcare Barriers of Refugees Post-Resettlement. J Community Health. 34:529–538. PMC2778771