Cathy Deckys
The Elderly Somali Bantu Refugees' Adjustment to American Healthcare
Cathy Deckys, MSN, RN, COHN-S
Pamela Springer, RN, PhD, CNE, ANEF

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Abstract: The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to discover and describe the experiences of 14 elderly Somali Bantu refugee community members as they adjusted to the American healthcare system. Observations, in-depth interviews of elderly community members, and a focus group were conducted to understand the experiences of elderly refugees while adjusting to an unknown healthcare system. Themes included: using interpreters, difficulty understanding healthcare providers and systems, taking medications, finding transportation, having no money, reporting bad dreams, sadness, and memories of Somalia, incorporating beliefs and rituals into their healthcare, and receiving care for female problems. Problems arose in patient safety due to miscommunication, low health literacy, and unawareness of cultural beliefs that impact culturally sensitive and congruent care. The significance of this research to nurses and other healthcare providers is to better understand how differing cultural values, beliefs and language differences impact the adjustment of these elderly refugees to the American healthcare system. This understanding will positively impact care for this population.

Keywords: Elderly Somali Bantu, refugee, cultural adjustment, healthcare access, cultural clash

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