Living conditions and health care usage of Haitian families in the Dominican Republic: A comparison of urban and rural/peri-urban households

Glob Public Health. 2021 Jan;16(1):103-119. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2020.1782965. Epub 2020 Jun 19.


Previous research has drawn attention to the health risks and poor living conditions that families of Haitian descent contend with in the Dominican Republic, particularly in rural, agricultural communities. Less clearly described is whether these problems persist as households transition to non-agricultural work and increasingly urban residence patterns. This study compares the use of health care services and access to water, sanitation, and food for Haitian and Dominico-Haitian families living in the city of Puerto Plata with households located on the rural-urban fringe. Data were collected during household surveys with 61 urban and 30 rural/peri-urban families. Households residing in the rural/peri-urban community had lower incomes, more unmet sanitation needs, and less stable access to water than urban families. Overall, households lacked adequate food, with 74.4% experiencing food insufficiency. Respondents reported using diverse types of health services and treatments, but households in the rural/peri-urban community had higher rates of health care use than urban families. These findings indicate urban families have better access to some resources that promote health than rural/peri-urban households. By identifying health issues and environmental conditions in rural/peri-urban and urban areas, this study aims to provide guidance for policy-makers, agencies, and organisations that serve Haitian migrant communities.

Keywords: Dominican Republic; Haitian migrants; health care use; living conditions; rural; urban.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Dominican Republic
  • Haiti
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Rural Population
  • Social Conditions*
  • Urban Population