San Antonio refugees: Their demographics, healthcare profiles, and how to better serve them

Fadi W. Adel, Eden Bernstein, Michael Tcheyan, Shane Ali, Heidi Worabo, Moshtagh Farokhi, Andrew E. Muck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective The recent refugee crisis has resulted in the largest burden of displacement in history, with the US being the top resettlement country since 1975. Texas welcomed the second most US-bound refugees in 2016, with a large percentage arriving in San Antonio. Yet, the composition of the San Antonio refugees has not been described and their healthcare needs remain ill-defined. Through this study, we aim at elucidating their demographics and healthcare profiles, with the goal of devising recommendations to help guide refugee program development and guide other refugee resettlement programs. Methods Data from 731 charts belonging to 448 patients at the San Antonio Refugee Health Clinic (SARHC) were extracted and analyzed. Data included age, gender, country of origin, first language, interpretation need, health insurance status, medical history, vital signs, diagnoses, and prescribed medications. Results Women constituted the majority of patients (n = 267; 56.4%), and the median age of all patients was 39 (Q1:26, Q3:52). Nepali-speaking Bhutanese patients were the most represented group (n = 107, 43.1%), followed by Iraqi (n = 35, 14.1%), Burmese (n = 30, 12.1%), and Iranian (n = 19, 7.7%) refugees. Of those who responded, 200 (86.6%) did not have any form of health insurance. Additionally, 262 (50.9%) had a body-mass index (BMI) in the overweight or obese range. Further, 61.4% (n = 337) had blood pressures in the hypertensive range, while 9.3% (n = 51) had an elevated blood pressure. On average, each patient had 1.9 complaints, with abdominal pain, headaches, and cough being the predominant complaints. Allergic rhinitis, viral upper respiratory infections, and elevated blood pressure were the most common diagnoses. However, the list of common diagnoses differed per country of origin. Conclusion The SARHC demographics were different from those of other Texas refugees. The rate of the uninsured and the burden of non-communicable diseases were high. Furthermore, each refugee subgroup had a different set of common problems. These findings reveal important considerations for refugee healthcare providers and the unique approach that may be required for different communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0211930
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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