Publication Date

8-2010

Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis

Degree Title

Master of Science in Nursing

Department

Nursing

Major Advisor

Pam Springer, Ph.D., R.N.

Abstract

A paucity of research exists involving the emic, or insider perspective, of the elderly Somali Bantu as it pertains to their experience of health care. The purpose of this qualitative, descriptive study is to gain insight into the factors that influence the elderly Somali Bantus’ experience of American health care in Boise, Idaho based on their perspective. The elderly Somali Bantu refugee has experienced many changes since their resettlement to the United States from United Nations’ refugee camps in Kenya four to seven years ago. The majority of this population is illiterate and has no native written language. This is a particular challenge when adjusting to new American systems such as health care, insurance, and getting to doctor’s appointments on mass transit. The participants (n = 14) of the study are a subset of the larger Somali Bantu community of Boise, Idaho and are self-described as “elderly” (50+ years of age) as per their cultural norm. An initial community assessment was conducted over an 18 month period, utilizing theoretical frameworks from cultural and community assessment models. A thorough description of methodology and results are provided. The results of the assessments are discussed as well as the implications for health care providers and policy makers. The findings of this study indicate that the elderly Somali Bantu refugee experiences are complex, influencing factors related to their health and navigating new systems such as health care. This, in turn, creates vulnerability and places them at increased risk for health disparities. Further research is needed to obtain actual health data on this vulnerable population to determine its health needs and to plan culturally appropriate health interventions.

Key words: Somali Bantu, community assessment, cultural assessment, elderly refugee, refugee health, vulnerable populations

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