Emergency Department and Primary Care Use by Refugees Compared to Non-refugee Controls

Matthew A. Guess, Kawai O. Tanabe, Abigail E. Nelson, Steven Nguyen, Fern R. Hauck, Rebecca J. Scharf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The U.S. grants asylum to 60,000–70,000 refugees yearly. However, little is known about their healthcare utilization practices. We examined data from emergency department (ED) and primary care (PC) visits of 694 refugees and 738 non-refugee controls over a 3 years period at a large academic medical center, comparing visit frequencies, Emergency Severity Index (ESI) scores, diagnoses, and dispositions. Refugees used emergency care services less frequently than the non-refugee controls (1.19 vs. 2.31, p < 0.0001) while there was no difference in their use of primary care services (8.45 vs. 9.07, p = 0.18). Non-English-speaking refugees were more likely to use the ED than English-speaking refugees (mean ED use in study period 1.50 visits vs. 0.73, p < 0.0001). Refugee patients utilized emergency services less often compared to controls. These results differ from previously studied refugee populations. Refugee-specific primary care services in this study population may reduce unnecessary ED use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)793-800
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immigrant and Minority Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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