Relationships Between English Language Proficiency, Health Literacy, and Health Outcomes in Somali Refugees
Little is known about the impacts of health literacy and English proficiency on the health status of Somali refugees. Data came from interviews in 2009–2011 of 411 adult Somali refugees recently resettled in Massachusetts. English proficiency, health literacy, and physical and mental health were measured using the Basic English Skills Test Plus, the Short Test of Health Literacy in Adults, and the Physical and Mental Component Summaries of the Short Form-12. Associations were analyzed using multiple linear regression. In adjusted analyses, higher English proficiency was associated with worse mental health in males. English proficiency was not associated with physical health. Health literacy was associated with neither physical nor mental health. Language proficiency may adversely affect the mental health of male Somali refugees, contrary to findings in other immigrant groups. Research on underlying mechanisms and opportunities to understand this relationship are needed.
KeywordsRefugees Health literacy English proficiency Mental health Physical health
This research was funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (Grant 1R01DE017716-01A2, Geltman, PI). Dr. Murphy was funded by a training grant through the Health Resources and Services Administration (Grant D33HP25766).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declared that they have no conflict of interest.
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