Health risk and promotion behaviors in refugee populations

J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2004 Aug;15(3):347-56. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2004.0034.


Refugees resettling in the U.S. are generally low-income and underserved by health promotion interventions. To begin to address refugee health promotion issues, this study describes health behaviors of newly arrived (less than 90 days) adult refugees in the U.S. The methods used were retrospective description of clients from one refugee health screening program. The sample consisted of adult refugees (n=591), men and women, from Cuba, Bosnia, Vietnam, Kosovo, Iran, Iraq, and other countries. Rates of overweight were highest among Bosnians and lowest among Vietnamese. Cubans reported the most physical activity and Kosovars the least. Rates of smoking were highest among Bosnians and lowest among Cubans. Older refugees were more overweight and reported less physical activity and more smoking than younger adults. In some cases, different refugee groups have similar health promotion needs, while in others needs differ. This baseline descriptive data supports calls for further health promotion research and interventions in refugee populations.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / ethnology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior / ethnology*
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Obesity / ethnology
  • Refugees*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / ethnology
  • United States / epidemiology