Refugee Health Education: Evaluating a Community-Based Approach to Empowering Refugee Women in Houston, Texas


  • Elizabeth Leah Frost University of Texas School of Public Health
  • Christine Markham University of Texas School of Public Health
  • Andrew Springer University of Texas School of Public Health



Refugee health, women’s health, health education, program evaluation


Although resettlement agencies in the United States assist refugees by offering a variety of local social and health services, refugees are still less likely to access these services. Few studies have evaluated refugee health education interventions focusing on barriers to accessing healthcare and overcoming negative social determinants of health. This study evaluated the feasibility, acceptability, and perceived impact of a yearlong health education intervention to empower Burmese refugee women living in Houston, Texas. The intervention included workshops, community excursions, question and answer (Q&A) sessions, and home visits. The evaluation was a formative qualitative study including interviews with Burmese refugee women who participated in the intervention and local resettlement agency caseworkers. Qualitative content analysis guided the data analysis and was conducted to identify categories and emergent themes. Key findings indicated that motivation to participate in the intervention was impacted by the women’s perceived relevance of health education material to Burmese cultural values and opportunities for hands-on learning to promote self-efficacy. Recommendations for future interventions include the use of community health workers to train refugee health educators, pairing English lessons with health education material to promote development of English language skills, developing teaching materials for refugees with low literacy, establishing bottom-up support from refugee resettlement agencies, and incorporating the social work ecological model to tailor health-focused interventions to the specific needs of the refugee community.

Author Biographies

Elizabeth Leah Frost, University of Texas School of Public Health

Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences

Christine Markham, University of Texas School of Public Health

Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences

Associate Professor

Andrew Springer, University of Texas School of Public Health

Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences

Associate Professor


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