To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

“When you are here, you have high blood pressure”: Liberian refugees’ health and access to healthcare in Staten Island, NY

Bernadette Ludwig (Department of Sociology, Wagner College, Staten Island, New York, USA)
Holly Reed (Department of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Queens College, CUNY Institute for Demographic Research and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, Queens, New York, US)

International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care

ISSN: 1747-9894

Article publication date: 7 March 2016




The purpose of this paper is to examine health issues among Liberian refugees living in Staten Island and access potential barriers to accessing healthcare.


Qualitative methods including interviews (n=68) with West African immigrants, predominantly Liberian refugees, and long-term ethnography were employed to elicit West Africans’ views on health, acculturation, and access to service providers. Framework analysis was employed to analyze the data thematically.


Chronic health diseases, depression, isolation, and inadequate access to healthcare were the main concerns of the population studied. The findings are in contrast to the public health experts’ concentration on infectious diseases.

Practical implications

The barriers to access proper healthcare have implications for healthcare providers and government institutions and information about these barriers can help them to refocus their health efforts to better address the needs of West African refugees.


Africans are among the newest immigrants in the USA and are considerably understudied compared to other groups such as Latin Americans and Asians. Additionally, there is an abundance research about refugees’ health status when they first arrive in the USA, but there is little data on their health after their resettlement.



This research was partially supported by the Queens College Undergraduate Research Mentoring Initiative. The authors thank the study participants, undergraduate research assistants Mariah Carroll and Marina Mani for their assistance, and Anahi Viladrich, Annemarie Dowling-Castronovo, Laura Limonic, Alexis Silver, and Fanny Lauby for their feedback.


Ludwig, B. and Reed, H. (2016), "“When you are here, you have high blood pressure”: Liberian refugees’ health and access to healthcare in Staten Island, NY", International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 26-37.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited