The impact of postresettlement stressors and access to health care on health outcomes in recently resettled refugees in the United States

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

8-31-2023

Abstract

This mixed-methods study examines mechanisms connecting the deployment of economic, social, and health care resources to emotional distress and physical health outcomes. Examining such mechanisms is critical for informing strategies, policies, and other interventions for reducing health disparities and improving refugee health in the United States and other resettlement contexts. Data for this study were collected as part of a randomized control trial in a mid-sized city in the Southwestern United States. Two-hundred ninety recently resettled (< 3 years) refugee adults from 143 households were enrolled in the study (36.2% Afghan, 32.8% Iraqi/Syrian, and 31.0% Great Lakes African; 52% women). Qualitative interview data were collected via semistructured interviews. A longitudinal structural equation path model of quantitative data from three time points over 12 months tested hypotheses that emerged from qualitative findings. In semistructured interviews, refugees in the United States (a) attributed the development of worse or new physical health problems to postresettlement stressors related to financial instability and limited social support that contributed to their emotional distress and (b) reported several barriers to accessing health care in the United States, including insufficient knowledge of health care resources, inadequate patient-provider communication, and navigating complex American health insurance systems, all of which exacerbated their physical health problems. Guided by these qualitative findings, longitudinal quantitative data revealed that: (a) postmigration stressors were associated with emotional distress and poor self-reported physical health, (b) emotional distress mediated the association between postmigration stressors and global health satisfaction, and (c) emotional distress was negatively associated with global health satisfaction. Findings document stressors refugees experience in the context of the unique environment created by the American health care system and how these stressors contribute to poor physical health through increased emotional distress. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

Publisher

American Orthopsychiatric Association

Publication Title

The American journal of orthopsychiatry

ISSN

1939-0025

DOI

10.1037/ort0000697

Language (ISO)

English

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