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Stakeholder Perceptions of Health Needs in Refugee Populations in the Greater Richmond Area

Ashley Koo, Depts. of Medical Anthropology and Chemistry, Matt Tessama, and Tatiana Brown, with Dr. Dina Garcia, Dept. of Health Behavior and Policy

A refugee is a person outside of the country of his or her nationality who is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution based on her race, religion, nationality, or membership in a certain social group. The United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees estimates that in 2018, approximately 22,500 refugees were resettled in the U.S. with 1,805 arrived in Virginia. Many of these refugees face multiple health challenges post-resettlement, particularly in oral health. Although these oral health needs are a recognized concern, there is very little information to support what the specific facilitators and barriers to dental care access is for this population. The long-term objective of this study is to identify the largest gaps in healthcare access for refugee populations, and plan an intervention to bridge these gaps through local clinics. The health and oral health needs of refugees post-resettlement can be determined through one-on-one semi-structured interviews with health liaisons. The participants will be recruited from a list of organizations involved in refugee resettlement and employment, including the Virginia Department of Health, Commonwealth Catholic Charities, ReEstablish Richmond and the International Rescue Committee. The interviews will allow stakeholders to share their experience serving the refugee community, their perspective on health needs that are present in this population and ideas on how to address these needs. The interviews will be audiotaped and then transcribed via research participants and stored in the password-protected MAXQDA software. There exists a link between dental/ oral health and overall health: untreated dental cavities can lead to cardiovascular issues and can be fatal. Intervention within the community is needed to increase healthcare access; analyzing stakeholder perspectives will allow greater understanding of what inequities exist for refugee populations in the Greater Richmond area.

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Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Dina Garcia, Ph.D.


Virginia Commonwealth University. Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program

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VCU Undergraduate Research Posters


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Stakeholder Perceptions of Health Needs in Refugee Populations in the Greater Richmond Area