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Journal Article


Allen JD, Leyva B, Hilaire DM, Reich AJ, Martinez LS. Health Soc. Care Community 2015; 24(6): 687-698.


Center for Community-Based Research, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, USA.


(Copyright © 2015, John Wiley and Sons)






In January 2010, a massive earthquake struck Haiti. The devastation not only affected those living in Haiti at the time but also those Haitians living in the United States (U.S.). Few studies have assessed the degree of impact of the earthquake in U.S. Haitian communities. The purpose of this study was to elicit information about health priorities, concerns and resources needed to improve the delivery of health and social care for Haitians in Boston, MA. We conducted six focus groups among 78 individuals in the spring of 2011. Participants were recruited through community organisations, including churches, Haitian social service centres, restaurants and by word of mouth. Analysis of qualitative data revealed an enormous psychological, emotional, financial and physical toll experienced by Boston-area Haitians following the earthquake. Participants described increased distress, depressive episodes, headaches and financial hardship. They also noted insufficient resources to meet the increased needs of those living in the U.S., and those who had immigrated after the earthquake. Most participants cited an increased need for mental health services, as well as assistance with finding employment, navigating the immigration system, and balancing the health and financial needs of families in the U.S. and in Haiti. Despite this, many reported that the tragedy created a sense of unity and solidarity within the Haitian community. These findings corroborate the need for culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health services, as well as for employment, immigration and healthcare navigation services. Participants suggested that interventions be offered through Haitian radio and television stations, as well as group events held in churches. Further research should assess the need for and barriers to utilisation of mental health services among the Haitian community. A multi-faceted approach that includes a variety of outreach strategies implemented through multiple channels may offer a means of improving awareness of and access to health and social services.

Language: en


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