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Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 961–968 | Cite as

Socio-Medical Challenges of Asylum Seekers Prior and After Coming to the US

  • Ramin Asgary
  • Beth Charpentier
  • Delia C. Burnett
Original Paper

Abstract

Refugee asylum seekers face complex social and medical challenges. We evaluated 30 consecutive asylees in New York for socio-demographic and health backgrounds, characteristics of torture, presentations and medico legal path. Results: Majority was male, young, educated from sub-Saharan Africa. In home countries, all had employment; 58 % had fair or good access to healthcare; 36 % used traditional medicine; and 14 % had insurance. In the US, social support and accommodations were provided by countrymen; overwhelmingly they were unemployed; none had insurance; and 57 % never had any contact with healthcare system. Sixty nine percent had PTSD and 69 % depression. Almost all had scars with significant sequelae. Eighty eight percent were granted asylum. Ironically, asylees had better access to social and health services in home countries than the US. We recommend better recognition of, and addressing asylees’ social and health needs through a multidisciplinary approach drawing on other countries’ experience, and expanding existent programs for refugees to cover asylees.

Keywords

Refugees Asylum seekers Socio-demographics Torture Health challenges 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We wish to thank Drs. Liz Kah and Anna Goldman, and Lucy Schulson for their invaluable contribution to the human rights clinic since its inception. We would like to thank Elisabeth Brodbeck for her contribution to the manuscript and its revision, Alexandra Ingber for her contribution to data entry and analysis, and Dr. Sanjat Kanjilal for his contribution to primary data analysis and draft of this manuscript.

Conflict of interest

Authors declare no financial and conflict of interest for this study.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ramin Asgary
    • 1
  • Beth Charpentier
    • 2
  • Delia C. Burnett
    • 3
  1. 1.Program in Health and Human RightsMount Sinai School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Program on Forced Migration and Health, Mailman School of Public HealthColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Medical EducationMount Sinai School of MedicineNew YorkUSA

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