UNL Study Shows Barriers to Healthcare for Yazidi Refugees in Nebraska

April 15, 2022, 4 p.m. ·

Falah Rashoka stands outside his office on East Campus.
Falah Rashoka created cultural awareness videos for healthcare providers in Lincoln to communicate with immigrants. (Photo Courtesy, Craig Chandler | University Communication)

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The English Language: most lifelong Americans take it for granted. For Yazidi refugees seeking a new life in middle-America, language hurdles can prevent access to physical and mental healthcare resources, as well as other necessities.

A University of Nebraska-Lincoln study finds Yazidi refugees in Nebraska face challenges in accessing healthcare resources. The Yazidi are an ethnic group that have faced persecution in Eastern Asia.

The UNL study reveals lack of knowledge about appointment expectations adds up to confusion between the Yazidi community and Nebraska healthcare personnel.

Falah Rashoka is one of the investigators in the study and said he’s starting a program to inform refugees of the resources available, as well as educating the healthcare system on how to care for refugee patients.

“[I’m going to] develop educational materials for healthcare providers to educate them about how to deal and how to work with the refugees coming to this [state],” Rashoka said, “who come from different cultures, different systems, different healthcare systems, different lives.”

He said Yazidi people need mental healthcare, too. The refugees have seen war and, in some cases, genocide, which can lead to trauma.

Rashoka said another goal of the study is to match Yazidi people’s skills, with needs in Nebraska communities. This can settle them into a more normal life.

“So this project was part of big projects on how to develop a map or roadways (for) such people, to get back to their professional works, including nurses and engineers and teachers,” Rashoka said.

Translators cannot solve every communication issue. They may not speak the exact dialect of Kurmanji that many Yazidi refugees speak. Sharing symptom details to a translator becomes uncomfortable for some refugees, as well. According to the results this is especially true for women.

The study talked with focus groups aiming to get more personal insights. They later translated their answers to English and searched for common themes.