Barriers and Facilitators to Healthy Lifestyle among Refugees Resettled in the United States

Objective: The purpose of this project included: to provide health education for refugees and to gather perspectives on barriers; and facilitators toward healthy eating and regular physical activity. Methods: Six health promotion classes were held between February and June, 2017. Data were collected using a pre-class survey, focus groups, and field notes. Qualitative data were mapped to constructs of the Health Belief Model. Twenty-eight participants of diverse refugee populations participated in this project, of which 12 participated in 4 focus groups. Results: Desires to “stay healthy” and “to be there for family” appeared to be key facilitators for healthy lifestyle. Key barriers to healthy lifestyle include “busy schedule,” and “not able to afford healthy food.” Participants described their struggles to access affordable fresh food and believed having adopted the American diet caused adverse health outcomes. Throughout the project, participants showed interests in utilizing local parks but lacked information on access and use. Conclusion: Future health promotion interventions should focus on familiarizing refugee families with local produce whilst being culturally sensitive on different cooking methods and diet preferences. More health classes and opportunities for free to low-cost exercise are needed.


Hsien-Wen Meng, Kai Sin, Mu Pye, Alla Chernenko, Darbee Hagerty, Ali Al-Sarray, Akiko Kamimura

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