Document Type

Master's Culminating Experience

Publication Date



The purpose of this research study was to identify health needs and health problems experienced by a refugee/asylee population in Montgomery County. Montgomery County hosts a large number of refugees, asylees and asylum seekers from countries such as Iraq, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Soudan, Rwanda, Burundi and Congo.

A public health challenge is limited demographic data about this population. The scarce data on their health needs slows down not only their successful resettlement but also limits community organizations, health and human services agencies to improve the delivery of health care services and health promotion programs to refugees and immigrants in Montgomery County.

Study participants were recruited through snowballing sampling from the Rwandan and Burundian refugees’ community in Montgomery County. We interviewed a convenience sample of 178 people which probably represents more than 25% of the approximate 600 hundred refugees from Rwanda and Burundi. The SPSS software has been used to analyze this data. Results indicate a high prevalence of uninsured and participants indicated a high prevalence of intestinal parasites. Lack of medical interpretation and translation makes healthcare inaccessible and expensive because refugees use emergency services or wait until the illness becomes complicated. Unemployment, price of rent, utilities, and medical bills are associated with the high prevalence of stress self-reported by refugees. The results of this study indicate the need of implementing refugee programs providing health promotion and education. We recommend that one entity be created to coordinate all refugee initiatives in Montgomery County as well as a multicultural and a multi-linguistic approach to assure that all refugees are reached by prevention and treatment messages.