Demographic and health related characteristics of refugees patients in Milwaukee, WI

Presentation Notes

Presented at North American Primary Care Research Group 46th Annual Meeting; November 9-13, 2018; Chicago, IL.


Context: Since 2002, over 13,000 refugees have resettled in Wisconsin with two thirds residing in the city of Milwaukee. Primary care providers often lack basic knowledge about socioeconomic and healthcare related characteristics of refugee patients.

Objective: To explore demographic and health related characteristics of refugee patients.

Study Design: We conducted a retrospective chart review of 187 adult and pediatric refugee patients seen for health screenings upon arrival to the U.S and 122 refugee patients who established care at one of the two studied family medicine residency clinics.

Main and Secondary Outcome Measures: Of 187 patients who underwent initial refugee examination, 122 (mean age = 26, 46% female) had established care at 8 months or after their first appointment. Refugees were predominantly Asian (72%), primarily from Myanmar (43%) and Malaysia (25%). The main languages spoken were Burmese, Rohingya, and Karen. Prevalent health related findings included positive screening for psychiatric conditions at the initial visit (12%), latent TB (14% initially and 22% of those who established care), anemia (12%, 17% respectively), dyslipidemia (14%), smoking (24%), betel nut use (11%), elevated lead (27%), dental problems (50%) and Vitamin D deficiency (8%). Weight issues were also prevalent, with overweight (22% initially and 31% after 8 or more months), obesity (11%, 13% respectively) or underweight (9%, 7% respectively). Prevalent health systems included musculoskeletal (23.7%) and gastrointestinal (17.2%). Screening rates for cervical cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer were 57.8%, 58.3%, and 75% respectively for those who established care.

Conclusions: Prominent health conditions among refugee patients include latent tuberculosis and dental problems but also prevalent diseases in western countries such as obesity, dyslipidemia and musculoskeletal pain. By identifying common healthcare issues and sociodemographic characteristics of our refugee patients, this study can help better prepare providers to improve the health of this vulnerable population.

Document Type

Oral/Podium Presentation

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