Barriers to healthcare access among refugees with disabilities and chronic health conditions resettled in the US Midwest

J Immigr Minor Health. 2014 Aug;16(4):733-42. doi: 10.1007/s10903-013-9906-5.


Chronic conditions and related functional disabilities are highly prevalent among resettled refugees in the United States. There is a need to explore this population's access to appropriate healthcare services in order to identify service disparities and improve interventions. Using a community-based participatory research approach, semi-structured interviews were conducted with key informants to identify healthcare access barriers affecting disabled and chronically ill refugees. Eighteen participants were interviewed, revealing three main barriers: (1) inadequate health insurance, (2) language and communication barriers, and (3) a complex maze of service systems. These barriers were found to operate at systems, provider, and individual levels. Broad-based policy and practice interventions are required to address barriers including: an expanded pool of medical interpreters, peer navigators, innovative health information technologies, and greater collaboration and information-sharing between service systems. Further research is needed to monitor the impact the Affordable Care Act on service access of refugees with disabilities and chronic conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease*
  • Community-Based Participatory Research
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage / statistics & numerical data
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Language
  • Male
  • Midwestern United States
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
  • Refugees*