This symposium convenes three presentations on healthcare service use among two refugee groups from Burma (a.k.a. Myanmar) and unique challenges faced by both group at various levels. The studies were conducted in New York and Texas, where local environments and the welfare system might respond differently to the needs of resettled refugees. We observe some universal challenges (e.g., low or no English language proficiency) but the manifestation of other challenges may differ, depending on the larger social environment they have resettled in and cultural factors that may affect their needs. The focus of this symposium is to understand the challenges and barriers in healthcare use, and further explore how to best develop culturally responsive intervention approaches that are grounded in evidence.
Isok Kim and his colleagues present the correlates of health literacy among Karen refugees (N=201) living in Buffalo, New York. They created a basic health literacy scale based on focus groups within the Karen population, and tested the measure with Karen refugees through a survey. The results indicated that different factors were associated with health literacy scores for men and women. Findings indicate the critical importance of developing and implementing gender-specific and culturally appropriate intervention.
Diane Mitschke and her colleagues examined the healthcare needs and challenges among Rohingyan refugees (N=21). The Rohingya, an ethnic hill tribe from Burma, face unique obstacles because their language does not have a written script. Findings from the interviews revealed that Rohyngyansâ€™ access to healthcare was significantly limited by lack of health insurance and financial capacity, which resulted in significant delays in help-seeking behaviors. Language, literacy, and a lack of reliable transportation hindered healthcare service use. Findings highlighted the need for resettlement efforts and resources to eliminate barriers to healthcare service use for Rohyingyan refugees, as well as the need for service providers to be aware of somaticized health complaints that are culturally acceptable.
Wooksoo Kim and her colleagues examined the determinants of dental care service use among the Karen refugees (N=201). Using the Andersen-Newman Healthcare Service Model, they explored three domains including predisposing factors (gender, marital status, age), enabling factors (education, income, social support, years in the U.S., dental care knowledge), and need factors (visits to primary care physician, smoking, chewing betel nuts) on dental care service use. The findings of this study provided important information regarding dental care service use to enhance the well-being of this population.