Iraqi Refugee Health Needs Assessment


Refugees face many barriers when seeking to utilize health services in a new country.  In 2012, Opening Doors, the UC Davis Clinical and Translational Science Center, and the Mesopotamia Organization conducted a joint investigation assessing the current health conditions and barriers to treatment faced by Sacramento-area Iraqi refugees. The collaborative, community-based study released preliminary results concerning the specific mental and physical health conditions of the growing Iraqi refugee community within the area.


At the time of the survey, there were over 2,000 Iraqi refugees in Sacramento, and the population continues to grow significantly.  While past reports have studied health concerns of Iraqi refugees in the San Diego area and nationwide, there is little to no research regarding physical and mental health issues within the Iraqi community living in the Sacramento area specifically.


The study found that the United States national and local healthcare systems have not met the overall health needs of Sacramento-area Iraqi refugees. Many Iraqi refugees are not able to receive the proper specialized care due to limited coverage, high costs, and limited English skills. A large number have suffered traumatic experiences that continue to affect them, making mental health issues a serious concern in the Iraqi refugee community. All of these issues have resulted in high dissatisfaction with the United States health care system. Study results show health care needs are a top priority for the Iraqi community members.  This study will enable us to work with local physical and mental health providers to better meet the needs of this population.


For this project, Opening Doors worked with the UC Davis Clinical and Translational Science Center, an interdisciplinary enterprise which fosters health research leading to improved population health, and the Mesopotamia Organization, a nonprofit comprised of and serving Sacramento area Iraqi refugees and immigrants. Read the full report here.