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Introduction. Burlington, Vermont accepts refugees from around the world. These individuals face unique barriers to accessing healthcare due to language, culture and finances. Research suggests that cultural beliefs about healthcare can affect ability or willingness to seek medical care. Gaining a better understanding of refugee perspectives of the healthcare system may offer insight into how to rectify this issue.

Objectives. The goal of this study was to learn about refugee perspectives of the healthcare system and assess their use of services.

Methods. We surveyed a convenience sample of 24 refugees to learn more about thoughts and practices surrounding healthcare and the use of the medical system.

Results. Survey findings suggested that refugees who had been living in the US for longer than one year access healthcare resources differently from more recent arrivals. Most respondents agreed that reasons for going to a healthcare provider revolved around the diagnosis and treatment of current ailments. Regardless of time spent in the U.S., most respondents were unlikely to seek out preventive care. Refugees who had been in the U.S. longer than one year were less likely to seek out emergency services for acute symptoms that would be better served by a visit with their PCP.

Conclusions. Recent arrivals used the emergency room for primary care needs more than those living in the U.S. longer than one year, suggesting the efficacy of provided health education. Study data suggests an important area for improvement may be increased education for refugees about the importance of preventive care.


Martha Friedman

Vermont Department of Health

Shaden Eldakar-Hein

University of Vermont Medical Center


Vermont Department of Health


Global Health, Public Health Infrastructure

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License

Understanding Refugees' Perspectives on Health Care