What is it about?

This research study explored the challenges that refugees in Massachusetts face when it comes to their oral and emotional health. The researchers used surveys and interviews to collect information from participants. They found that refugees had difficulty accessing dental care due to cost and lack of structure in both their home and host countries. Even when they received public health insurance in the US, there were still limitations that made it hard for them to get dental care. The researchers also identified mental health issues that can affect oral health, such as trauma and depression. The study highlights the importance of considering the oral and emotional health needs of refugees and developing policies that are appropriate, affordable and effective for them.

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Why is it important?

This study focuses specifically on the oral and emotional health experiences of refugees, which is an area that has received relatively little attention in the research literature. By exploring this topic, the study fills an important gap in our understanding of the healthcare needs of refugees. Additionally, the study uses a mixed methods approach, combining both quantitative and qualitative data, which allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the issues. The use of both surveys and interviews provides a more nuanced picture of the challenges faced by refugees and the ways in which they navigate the healthcare system. Further, the study was conducted in 2018, at a time when the global refugee crisis was at its peak. The findings are therefore particularly relevant and timely, as they shed light on the experiences of a vulnerable population that continues to face significant challenges in accessing healthcare. By understanding the challenges faced by refugees and addressing them through appropriate policies and interventions, we can help to improve the health and well-being of this vulnerable population. Finally, the study's findings can be used by host countries to develop policies and resilient healthcare systems that are more responsive to the needs of refugees and migrant populations.


Working on this project and writing this article were both challenging and rewarding for me. As someone who shares a similar cultural background with many of these refugees, I was able to connect with their experiences on a personal level. It was important for me to amplify their voices and share their stories with a wider audience, in the hope of creating greater awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by refugees in accessing oral and mental healthcare in the US.

Dr Shaikha Aldukhail
Harvard School of Dental Medicine

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Oral and emotional health experience of refugees’ in the state of Massachusetts - A mixed methods approach, PLoS ONE, March 2023, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0281361.
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