Thursday, 20 February 2014

Use of country of birth as an indicator of refugee background in health datasets

Melanie Gibson-Helm, PhD student with the SPHPM’s Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation (MCHRI) has just had an article published on the use of country of birth as an indicator for refugee background on health datasets, in BMC Medical Research Methodology.

A wealth of data currently exists in hospital and primary care databases which provides a valuable resource for public health research. However one challenge with the current datasets is their ability to identify specific vulnerable or isolated groups such as resettled refugees. 

The objective of this study involving Melanie and other MCHRI researchers, was to review the strengths and weaknesses of current methodological approaches to identifying these vulnerable groups from existing health datasets, and to investigate the application of additional methodological consistency in future research. 
Country of birth is commonly collected in health datasets but a robust method for identifying humanitarian source countries is required. The authors recommend use of national immigration data to identify countries of birth with high proportions of humanitarian entrants. Using country of birth to identify resettled refugees would optimize usefulness of these resources.

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