The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

5012.0: Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 9:20 AM

Abstract #57158

Chronic health conditions among refugees in San Francisco: Developing, implementing and evaluating culturally appropriate programs that address behaviors, lifestyles and refugee experiences

Patricia Erwin, MPH1, Yin Yan Leung, MPH1, and Linette Escobar, MA2. (1) Newcomers Health Program, San Francisco Department of Public Health, 1490 Mason Street #107, San Francisco, CA 94133, 415-705-8552,, (2) SUNSET Russian Tobacco Education Project, Bay Area Community Resources, Ocean Park Health Center, 1351 24th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94122

Chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, CVD, hypertension, depression and arthritis, are some of the most common diagnoses during initial health assessments and ongoing primary care visits of refugees from Eastern Europe who resettle in San Francisco. Primarily from the former Soviet Union and Bosnia, these individuals have faced numerous challenges in their lives ranging from civil wars to displacement, and from nutritional deprivation to lack of preventative health, contributing to complex chronic physical and mental health issues. The stress of resettlement compounded by unhealthy behaviors and lifestyles such as tobacco use, physical inactivity, social isolation and poor nutritional choices, as well as culturally inappropriate approaches to care increase the risk for developing or aggravating chronic conditions. The authors conducted focus groups with newcomers in San Francisco to determine barriers and identify successful strategies for addressing chronic health conditions, and discussed similar issues with public health service providers. Based on these findings the program developed two culturally appropriate programs focused on chronic health conditions, one with Russian-speaking newcomers and another with Bosnians. Approaches include community capacity building and community leadership development, collaboration with public health providers, and culturally appropriate behavior change strategies, educational models and evaluation methods. We will discuss successful strategies these two programs use to address behaviors and lifestyles related to depression, arthritis, physical inactivity and tobacco use, as well as lessons learned. Discussion will also include recommendations for applying similar approaches to other newcomer groups.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Refugees, Health Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Strategies for Reaching Refugee and Immigrant Populations

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA