Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 160–181 | Cite as

A Review of Health Survey Research for People with Refugee Background Resettled from Africa: Research Gaps and Methodological Issues

  • Jungyoon KimEmail author
  • Wael ElRayes
  • Renaisa S. Anthony
  • Kirk Dombrowski
  • Shinobu Watanabe-Galloway


We reviewed 27 studies on adults with a refugee background resettled from Africa published between 1999 and 2017 to appraise their methodological issues for survey research. Out of 27 studies, eleven used a single sampling method (referral = 1, convenience = 10), and 16 relied on multiple sampling methods, many of which were combinations of referral and convenience. The two most salient recruitment strategies found were building trusted relationships with the community (n = 15), and using recruiters who were culturally and linguistically matched to the refugee communities of interest (n = 14). Fifteen studies used existing data collection instruments, while in 13 studies, researchers developed their own data collection instruments. In-person or phone interviews using bilingual interviewers (n = 21) were the most frequently used mode of data collection, followed by a self-administered survey (n = 7). Our review presents methodological gaps in current refugee health studies, such as limited use of probability sampling approach due to system barriers, lack of information in community engagement and recruitment processes, and insufficient considerations of unique culture and experiences of refugee communities when developing or adapting the instruments. Efforts can be made to guide and facilitate appropriate reporting and development of more scientifically robust survey methodologies for refugee health studies, as well as to improve registration system infrastructure that may help identify these hidden populations more effectively.


Refugee Africa Review Survey methods Sampling Recruitment Data collection 



This study was funded by the Fred and Pamela Buffet Cancer Center and College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center as a part of the Cancer Prevention and Control Pilot Grant (Title: Refugee Cancer Cohort Study).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of Interest.

Ethical Approval

For this type of study formal consent is not required. This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© W. Montague Cobb-NMA Health Institute 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health Services Research and Administration, College of Public HealthUniversity of Nebraska Medical CenterOmahaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology, College of Public HealthUniversity of Nebraska Medical CenterOmahaUSA
  3. 3.Charles Drew Community Health Center in OmahaOmahaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Sociology, College of Arts and SciencesUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA

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