202317 Healing Transitions: A community based model for the provision of culturally relevant programs for Burundian refugees

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 12:50 PM

Denise Bates, PhD, RRT, CHES , Public Health, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Allison Anders, PhD , Department of Instructional Technology, Health and Cultural Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Amy K. Richardson, BS , Department of Nutrition, Programs in Public Health, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Knoxville, TN
The Healing Transitions project at the University of Tennessee is a multi-disciplinary community-based initiative that focuses on the arrival and successful integration of Burundian refugees resettled to area. In 2007, there was a distinct need to develop a safety net for refugees arriving in Knoxville. Applying Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) principles, the investigators interviewed key stakeholders regarding the status of refugee resources in the community. Noted in each interview was the remarkable level of “culture shock” for both the refugees and the community, particularly with the newly resettling Burundian populations. Burundians were also interviewed in focus groups over the course of a year. This incoming population had no English language proficiency and was illiterate in their native language. Most stressful to the community was the lack of the Burundians' westernized comprehension of the “system” causing high degrees of stress for both parties. The interviews by the school district revealed that the Burundian children initially had a remarkably difficult time adjusting to life in the U.S. The children had daily “melt downs”, “stripped off their clothing”, “cried most of the day”, and “wandered aimlessly down the halls”. The data extracted from these interviews will be presented in addition to the successes and challenges experienced in the development of culturally relevant interventions by a community based coalition to promote successful integration and improve overall health outcomes.

Learning Objectives:
Identify key cultural and contextual considerations when developing a health services model for refugees upon arrival to host country. Discuss the importance of positive proximal and distal environments in relation to refugee families’ ability to succeed in resettlement. Design a culturally relevant health systems network within the service community.

Keywords: Refugees, Access to Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Denise Bates is an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee and centers her research around health care and education access for under-served people in the nation. Her work over the last 14 years has been predominately with refugees and immigrants, studying assimilation to dominate culture and the related and resulting health risks experienced by these groups of people, particularly in youth. Most of her work has been in community capacity building, community based research, health policy and developing social networks for community success.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.