Publication Date



refugees, resettlement, family medicine, residency, primary care, sociodemographics


Background: Since 2002, more than 13,000 refugees have resettled in Wisconsin, with two-thirds of that population residing in the city of Milwaukee.

Purpose: To explore the demographic and health-related characteristics of a growing and dynamic refugee population in Milwaukee.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective chart review of 122 established refugee patients at two family medicine residency clinics.

Results: Of the initial 268 patients who underwent the initial refugee examination, 122 (mean age: 26 years; gender: 54.0% male, 45.9% female) established care with a provider at one of the two studied primary care clinics at least 8 months after their initial screening examination. Refugees were predominantly Asian (72.1%), primarily from the countries Myanmar (43.4%) and Malaysia (25.4%). Additionally, while up to 20.5% spoke more than two ethnic languages, the main languages spoken were Burmese, Rohingya, and Karen. Prevalent health topics included newly diagnosed pregnancy (29%), latent tuberculosis (22% [92% completed treatment]), anemia (17%), dyslipidemia (14%), smoking (24%, including both current and former smokers), betel nut use (11%), and vitamin D deficiency (8%). Weight issues also were prevalent, with overweight body mass index (31.1%) more prevalent than obesity (13.9%) or underweight body mass index (7.4%). Prevalent health systems included musculoskeletal (23.7%) and gastrointestinal (17.2%). Screening rates for cervical cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer were 57.8%, 58.3%, and 75%, respectively.

Conclusion: By identifying common health care issues and sociodemographic characteristics of our refugee patients, this study will better prepare providers for a more streamlined and equitable approach toward improving the health of this vulnerable population.



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.