Refugee Health Technical Assistance Center

Important Update from RHTAC

Since its inception in October 2010, the Refugee Health Technical Assistance Center (RHTAC) has sought to provide quality technical assistance to diverse audiences through a range of primarily web-based strategies. We have been very fortunate to have had Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) funding for this important work. While we were not successful in the new cycle of ORR technical assistance cooperative agreement awards, we do have ORR support to complete several products. We are actively planning next steps and look forward to continued engagement with those committed to refugee health and well-being. Please know that you may continue to access RHTAC information, resources and tools on refugee health through our website


Improving Refugee Health Literacy

Health literacy is the ability to understand and use health information in everyday life. Many factors influence a person's health literacy skills, particularly knowledge of health-related topics, culture, language, computer access and skills, literacy, and pain, illness, and stress. Community health literacy and support are also important factors that influence an individual's health literacy.  Based on these factors, refugees in resettlement are likely to have limited health literacy skills, which can have major effects on health and wellness.


Clinicians, counselors, and advocates need to ensure that refugee populations fully understand their health information beyond the information provided in a refugees' native language. This means assisting clients with forms, using techniques and strategies such as the teach-back method, normalizing feelings of confusion, and providing "take-away" information.


One particularly effective technique is developing the take-away together with clients. Rather than handing over a ready-made fact sheet, work with the client to identify words or pictures that will help them remember. For example, if a client needs to take medicine before bed, the take-away could be a picture of a pill next to a moon and stars. This technique is not meant to replace traditional instructions, but to enhance and supplement them.  When clinicians, counselors, and advocates work together with refugees in providing health information, their health literacy and health outcomes can be greatly improved.


This article was contributed by CommunicateHealth, a health education and communication firm specializing in improving health literacy.


Health Literacy Twitter Chat

Helping Consumers Navigate Health Services

October 25, 2012, 3-4PM ET, Twitter Chat

Presented by:  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Use the hashtag #healthlit to take part in the discussion on Institute of Medicine's 10 Attributes of Health Literate Health Care Organizations.



See more health literacy resources >


In The Literature 

Free CECs: Refugee Mental Health Screening Webinar

The RHTAC webinar Tools and Strategies for Refugee Mental Health Screening presented by Dr. Michael Hollifield is now available as an online course.  Physicians and nurses can receive free Continuing Education Credits (CECs) while learning about the barriers to refugee mental health screening and how to overcome these barriers.  This course is available on demand through Baystate Health >

Suicide Prevention Resources in Refugee Languages

Enhance your refugee suicide prevention training or awareness raising campaign with resources translated into refugee languages.  RHTAC Refugee Suicide Prevention Training Toolkit presentation slides and role plays are available in English and Nepali.  Suicide prevention posters are in English, Burmese, Karen, and Nepali.  Arabic suicide prevention poster is coming soon!  Download and print these resources at no-cost >

ORR 2012 Consultation Highlights

This year's ORR Consultation in Arlington, Virginia welcomed a record number of attendees including refugees, community leaders, policy makers, and refugee-serving providers.  The Consultation's theme Transforming Hope into a Bright Future was well articulated by resettled refugees who shared stories of overcoming adversity.  Plenary sessions and workshops reinforced the theme by discussing policies and programs that support refugee self-sufficiency, health, and integration. Attendees left the Consultation inspired and armed with knowledge on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), refugee agricultural programs, anticipated new refugee arrivals for 2013, and much more. 


At the Consultation, RHTAC led a workshop called Affordable Care Act: Tools for Implementation in Refugee Communities.  In addition, staff joined the panel in the Refugee Health and ACA town hall plenary and distributed refugee suicide prevention posters and ACA policy briefs.  Read more >


Change in Access to Information for Asylees

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has moved from a telephone Hotline to a web-based interface to offer information for asylees seeking benefits and services supported by ORR.  Please note that the toll-free Asylee Hotline number listed on the asylum grant letter is no longer in service


Instead, please visit ORR Asylee Eligibility for Assistance and Services website, where you will find fact sheets in eight languages (plus English) and contact information for local service providers on the ORR Map.

Affordable Care Act & Refugee Health

Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Refugee Health briefs are now available for download on the RHTAC website.  The briefs are designed for direct care staff working with refugees resettled in the U.S.  They feature key provisions of the ACA related to refugee health and include practical sections such as key words and resources.  

  • Insurance Access and Eligibility: Features how the ACA will expand health insurance access, benefits and protections for refugees and refugee communities. 
  • Children and Youth: Explains how the ACA will expand health insurance coverage for refugee children and young adults, while providing stronger consumer protections for all families.

Learn more about ACA > 

Upcoming Events & Trainings 


The Eighth National Conference on Quality Health Care for Culturally Diverse Populations

March 11-14, 2013, Oakland, CA  

Presented by: DiversityRx  


2013 North American Refugee Health Conference 

June 6-8, 2013, Toronto, Canada

Presented by:  University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine

Submit a poster or oral abstract by December 3, 2012! 


View more events and trainings > 

Funding Opportunities 

National Women's Health Week RFP from the Office on Women's Health (OWH)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Due Oct 25, 2012.  Provides support for activities and events during National Women's Health Week 2013 (May 12-18) that promote the health of women and girls in the United States and its affiliated territories. 


Retention in Care Request for Proposals

AIDS United and the MAC AIDS Fund

Due Nov 2, 2012Funds approximately five grantees in the U.S. to facilitate retention in HIV health care by strengthening support and service systems and addressing barriers that affect people's ability to consistently participate in such care. 


Basic Social and Behavioral Research on Culture, Health, and Wellbeing

U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Letter of Intent Due Nov 16, 2012. Funding to develop, strengthen, and evaluate approaches and methods for basic behavioral and/or social research on the relationships among cultural practices/beliefs, health, and wellbeing. 

U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Due Jan 7, 2014. Suggested research areas include: biobehavioral studies of multiple factors that influence child health disparities, studies that target specific health promotion needs of children with known illness and/or disability, and/or studies that test and evaluate comparative effectiveness of health promotion interventions.

RHTAC is a project of the Refugee and Immigrant Health Program, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, in collaboration with the Center for Refugee Trauma and Resilience at Children's Hospital Boston, the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, the Cultural Orientation Resource Center at Center for Applied Linguistics, and JSI Research and Training Institute, Inc. RHTAC is funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Grant #90RB0042.    


For more information, please email [email protected].

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
This online course is designed to educate public health professionals on the importance of health literacy and their role in providing health information and promoting public health literacy. 


Cultural and Linguistic Competency Resources
U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Offers several resources for improving cultural and linguistic competency in delivering health care, including Oral, Linguistic, and Culturally Competent Services: Guides for Managed Care Plans.


Proposed Refugee Admissions for FY 2013: Report to Congress 

U.S. Departments of State, Homeland Security, & Health and Human Services

Contains information on refugee situations, proposed refugee admissions, and plans for resettlement for FY 2013.


View more resources > 


Webinar Archive   


Refugee Women's Health

September 13, 2012 


Promising Practices in Domestic Health Orientation 

July 11, 2012


Making CLAS Happen

June 20, 2012 



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