Culturally Effective Practice With Refugees in Community Health Centers: An Exploratory Study

  • Nicole Dubus San Jose State Univesity
  • Ashley Davis Wheelock College
Keywords: Refugee, community health center, cultural competence


The global refugee crisis requires providers of health and behavioral health services to develop culturally-effective practices that can meet the needs of the ever-changing demographics of those being resettled. Community health centers in the United States are often asked to provide services during the first year of resettlement for refugees. Social workers are among those professionals who provide the behavioral health services in the community health centers. To better understand the challenges for these providers, this qualitative study examines the experiences of 15 providers of refugee behavioral health services at community health centers in the northeast of the United States. The participants were interviewed, and those transcribed interviews were analyzed for themes. Findings revealed three main themes: client engagement as crucial; collaboration with interpreters; and cultural competence is an imperative but ill-defined. Important implications focus on the need for cultural competence and the challenge to obtain this competence given the resources and demands in community health centers.

Author Biography

Nicole Dubus, San Jose State Univesity

Nicole Dubus, PhD is an Assistant Professor in Social Work at San Jose State University, San Jose CA


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