Facilitating Health Communication with Immigrant, Refugee, and Migrant Populations Through the Use of Health Literacy and Community Engagement Strategies: Proceedings of a Workshop

Report Author: 
Joe Alper
Original Date of Publication: 
November, 2017

The goal of this workshop was to identify approaches that will enable health care organizations to serve immigrant and refugee populations "in a manner that allows all members of these communities to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and the services needed to make appropriate health and personal decisions." This publication summarizes the workshop's presentations and discussions, and highlights important lessons, practical strategies, and opportunities for using the principles of health literacy to facilitate communication with newcomer populations. In accordance with the policies of the National Academies, the workshop did not attempt to reach any conclusions or make any recommendations about needs and future directions. Rather, it simply highlights the issues identified by speakers and workshop participants and calls attention to programs and initiatives that show some promise of success.  One important concern of participants was to earn the trust of immigrant communities by responding to the climate of fear that surrounds immigrants today and to ensure that personal information, if collected at all, is safeguarded. One model program is the "You are safe here" campaign of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Another approach is to probe more deeply into the experience of migrants, many of whom have been tortured or have suffered other forms of trauma. As one participant said, "perhaps the most important thing a clinician can do is to be curious and ask people about their experiences." The workshop gave examples of efforts to address the social determinants of health, such as the work of the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative.  Workshop participants also learned about efforts on the part of health care organizations to partner with community-based organizations, such as the Casa de Salud in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Finally, innovative programs to improve communication with newcomer populations, such as the Let's Talk About Medicines project of Wisconsin Health Literacy, were described. (American Immigrant Policy Portal)

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 Proceedings of a Workshop

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Roundtable on Health Literacy, Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice, Health and Medicine Division, & National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2017). Facilitating Health Communication with Immigrant, Refugee, and Migrant Populations Through the Use of Health Literacy and Community Engagement Strategies: Proceedings of a Workshop. (J. Alper, Ed.). Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/24845

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