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Voices and Views of Congolese Refugee Women: A Qualitative Exploration to Inform Health Promotion and Reduce Inequities.

Health Educ Behav; 44(5): 769-780, 2017 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28868929

Abstract

Refugees have recently been thrust into the spotlight worldwide. The strikingly negative rhetoric currently surrounding refugees calls for increased action from public health educators. In 2016, the largest proportion of refugees to the United States came from the Democratic Republic of Congo. This presents the opportunity to explore health needs as Congolese refugees resettle in the United States, with women taking priority due to health disparities linked to gender-based discrimination, trauma, sexual and gender-based violence, lower literacy rates, and less access to learning English. Insight into experiences of Congolese women in the United States is critical for the proactive development of socioculturally relevant health promotion rather than reaction interventions once health inequities are exacerbated. Therefore, to better understand perceptions and experiences of Congolese women in Indianapolis related to health and health care, a community-based participatory research study with an anthropological approach was conducted in collaboration with a refugee resettlement agency utilizing photovoice and semistructured interviews. Sixteen women participated in six photovoice sessions and home-based interviews. Selected photos, photo stories, and interview transcripts were analyzed using ethnographic content analysis. Major themes were health care system issues, social support, and daily experiences of health. Findings provide needed insight into the sociocultural context of health for Congolese refugees in the United States for both health educators and resettlement agencies. Findings also revealed specific priority areas for culturally tailoring health education and assets on which to build when promoting health for this population. Additionally, lessons were learned about the power of an anthropological, community-based participatory research approach to qualitative research for promoting health equity.