A Review of Health Survey Research for People with Refugee Background Resettled from Africa: Research Gaps and Methodological Issues

Jungyoon Kim, Wael ElRayes, Renaisa S. Anthony, Kirk Dombrowski, Shinobu Watanabe-Galloway

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


We reviewed 27 studies on adults with a refugee background resettled from Africa published between 1999 and 2017 to appraise their methodological issues for survey research. Out of 27 studies, eleven used a single sampling method (referral = 1, convenience = 10), and 16 relied on multiple sampling methods, many of which were combinations of referral and convenience. The two most salient recruitment strategies found were building trusted relationships with the community (n = 15), and using recruiters who were culturally and linguistically matched to the refugee communities of interest (n = 14). Fifteen studies used existing data collection instruments, while in 13 studies, researchers developed their own data collection instruments. In-person or phone interviews using bilingual interviewers (n = 21) were the most frequently used mode of data collection, followed by a self-administered survey (n = 7). Our review presents methodological gaps in current refugee health studies, such as limited use of probability sampling approach due to system barriers, lack of information in community engagement and recruitment processes, and insufficient considerations of unique culture and experiences of refugee communities when developing or adapting the instruments. Efforts can be made to guide and facilitate appropriate reporting and development of more scientifically robust survey methodologies for refugee health studies, as well as to improve registration system infrastructure that may help identify these hidden populations more effectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-181
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 15 2019



  • Africa
  • Data collection
  • Recruitment
  • Refugee
  • Review
  • Sampling
  • Survey methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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