Date of Completion


Degree Type

Honors Thesis - Campus Access


Sociology (SOCL)

First Advisor

Dr. Rachel Washburn


In 2021, more than 11,000 refugees were resettled within the United States. This number could increase to up to 125,000 refugee admissions in 2022. Upon arrival, refugees encounter a variety of challenges within their resettlement process. One notable challenge is the adjustment to and ability to access the United States healthcare system. Healthcare access remains a major challenge for newly arrived refugees because it compounds (and is compounded by) preexisting resettlement challenges. Furthermore, the complex structure of the United States healthcare system, coupled with differing cultural conceptualizations of health, produces a system with barriers at all levels of care. In this study, I aimed to identify and analyze the barriers that refugees face in accessing healthcare upon their resettlement in the United States. To do this, I conducted sixteen in-depth, qualitative interviews with refugees, people who work in refugee resettlement, and people who work in refugee health. Through these interviews, four common barriers emerged. These common barriers resulted from differing levels of allopathic health literacy, language barriers, the complexity of the United States healthcare system (including insurance and cost barriers), and a mismatch between the cultural norms and expectations of refugees and the structure of medical care in the United States. Participants reported that these barriers had major impacts on their ability to access and utilize healthcare. These findings contribute to the current literature surrounding refugee healthcare accessibility and work to inform future practices to ease the refugee resettlement process.