Journal of Refugee & Global Health


Objectives: Refugees resettling in the United States bring with them a number of health conditions, the majority chronic. These health conditions may impact their ability to be successful with disease self-management and employment, and acculturate and thrive in their new communities. Knowledge of health conditions present in individual refugee populations can be of benefit to healthcare providers in the community and public health. The objective of this manuscript is to describe the state of health among refugees newly arriving in the US and resettling in Kentucky during 2016.

Methods: Using data from the domestic health screens, immunization clinics, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Electronic Disease Notification, a database entitled Arriving Refugee Informatics Surveillance and Epidemiology (ARIVE) was developed and the Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) system used as the platform.

Results: A total of 1495 adult and pediatric refugees were screened during January-June 2016 in Louisville, Lexington, Owensboro, and Bowling Green, Kentucky and data entered into ARIVE. Results from those domestic health screenings identified dental abnormalities (60%), obesity (23%), decreased visual acuity (14%), hyperlipidemia (14%), and elevated blood lead levels in child refugees (12%). Latent tuberculosis infection was identified in 13% and more than 32% had evidence of at least one intestinal parasite. Conditions of social importance included tobacco use among 16%. Mental health issues were evident as 15% had a positive Refugee Health Screener (RHS-15) result and more than 13% indicated they had witnessed or experienced torture.

Conclusions: This analysis shows that the main health conditions facing refugees after arriving in the US are chronic conditions that require long‐term medical management and support services. Upon review of these results, a systematic approach to solving the problem of long‐term follow‐up needs to be established for refugees in order to address and decrease the impact of chronic health conditions. Using information from this Kentucky assessment may promote interest in a national refugee health database as a means of developing population-based and population-specific interventions to improve overall health.


The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.