Evaluating Comprehensive and Functional Health Literacy on Adolescent Refugees in Cincinnati

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Adam Elzarka
Sonali Doshi
Shanna Stryker


By Adam Elzarka, Medical Sciences, Liberal Arts; Sonali Doshi, Medical Sciences

Advisor: Shanna Stryker

Awards: Presenter Award: Excellence in Research Communication

Presentation ID: 174

Abstract: As a sanctuary city, Cincinnati is home to many refugee students. These students often act as liaisons between their families and medical providers because of language barriers and the complexity of the American healthcare system. However, minimal health education is provided to these students, making it difficult for them to meet the needs of their families. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a novel health literacy program and its impact on refugee students' understanding of health. An eight-week health literacy curriculum was developed and taught within the adolescent refugee population at Aiken High School. It included topics such as nutrition, prescriptions, mental health, health insurance, preventative care, and ethics. The modules were designed to reinforce material through active learning and heavy discussion. To evaluate the curriculum, a pre-post intervention design was implemented. The surveys used a 5-point Likert scale to ask about different facets of comprehensive and functional health literacy. Refugee adolescents are motivated to learn about basic health concepts, but require more educational opportunities and resources to supplement them. The curriculum built a foundation of health literacy by facilitating discussions on many sensitive subjects such as sex education, mental health, and substance use. Students were exposed to healthcare vocabulary and were encouraged to practice their English skills by engaging in focus groups and collaborating with peers. Additional studies are in the works to meet the limitations found from this pilot study. These include increasing the number of students and restructuring the curriculum to better accommodate this demographic.

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Category: Teaching and Learning