142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Perceived Neighborhood Characteristics and the Health of Burundian Refugees in the United States

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 : 10:54 AM - 11:06 AM

Fletcher Njororai, PhD, CHES , Department of Health and Kinesiology, University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, TX
Purpose: This study examines the role refugee perception of neighborhood characteristics, housing, and resettlement experiences on self-rated health and well-being among newly arrived and recently resettled Burundian refugees in a small mid-southern rural city. Satisfaction with overall neighborhood characteristics, neighborhood safety, and with relationships to neighbors is considerably and significantly associated with higher self-rated and emotional health status. Typically refugees are initially offered temporary free housing by the host country, in poorer neighborhoods as they transition into permanent resettlement. Methods: A convenient sample of fifty Burundian refugee households recently arrived or resettled participated in the study over a period of eight months. Open-ended questions were used to collect qualitative data on participants’ perception of their neighborhood characteristics and how this related to their resettlement experiences, health and well-being in general.  These participants’ residences were in six different neighborhoods in Knoxville, Tennessee. Findings:  Thematic data analysis revealed perceptions of predominantly highly insecure neighborhoods; cheap or free run-down housing; rampart shootings; and violence sometimes gang-related or drug-related; discrimination on the bus and schools; disconnect with host community; poor housing; and a state of constant worry triggering sad memories of long years of suffering and forced migration.  Conclusions:  The effects of settling in poor or declining neighborhoods and the insecurity, and cultural shock in addition to traumatic war memories complicate the resettlement process. The findings suggest a range of policy and program changes to improve housing circumstances of newly arrived refugees, and facilitate their resettlement and integration into a new society.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Other professions or practice related to public health
Program planning
Public health or related education
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Explain the influence of refugee perceptions on their neighborhood characteristics as it impacts resettlement and well-being. Identify the characteristics of the neighborhoods in which refugees initially resettle on arrival in the US as they transition into permanent resettlement. Explain how poor neighborhoods make it difficult for refugees to forget the past and focus on a new life in the host country. Identify possible policy and program areas for change to help make the experiences of new arrived and newly resettled refugees more positive and productive

Keyword(s): Refugees, Healthy Housing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I did research work on the Burundian refugees while I was a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Department of Public Health.
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.