Australia has a long history of resettling refugees; since 1945, over 800,000 arrived under Australia’s Humanitarian Program.
Refugee populations have complex and diverse healthcare needs. For instance, newly arrived refugees in Australia have been noted to have a higher prevalence of psychological disorders, specific infectious diseases, nutritional deficiencies and disability. Almost three-quarters will have experienced traumatic events such as forced dislocation, prolonged political repression, being interned in refugee camps and/or family separation.
This educational activity is an opportunity for GPs to learn about the physical and mental health issues of people from refugee backgrounds, improve their skills and confidence in using interpreters, and learn about refugee-focused services and resources.
Relevance to General Practice
In the absence of refugee-focused services and programs, mainstream GP clinics are the “default option of care” for people with refugee backgrounds. GPs and other primary healthcare workforce therefore need an understanding of and to be responsive to the needs of refugee patients.
Research has indicated that GPs feel they may be missing health conditions in refugees that are rarely seen in Australia and that many are not aware of services, such as the doctor’s priority phone line, offered by the Commonwealth Translating Interpreting Service.
This activity will explore these topics and enhance GPs’ understanding of the unique presentations of refugees. It will also emphasise the role of GPs in not only providing direct clinical care but in linking refugees with specialised care and settlement resources.
- list the components of a refugee health assessment, with particular attention to mental illness
- explain why the white cell count of newly arrived refugees might be different to those of the rest of the population
- explore the causes of conditions such as hepatitis C and vitamin B12 deficiency that are likely to be different in refugees to the rest of the Australian popula
- outline how to manage chronic pain and non-communicable diseases in refugees
- outline the reasons that a qualified interpreter is important when seeing refugees.
Domains of General Practice
D1. Communication skills and the patient-doctor relationship
D2. Applied professional knowledge and skills
D3. Population health and the context of general practice
D4. Professional and ethical role
D5. Organisational and legal dimensions