Health and Social Needs in Three Migrant Worker Communities around la Romana, Dominican Republic, and the Role of Volunteers: A Thematic Analysis and Evaluation

Aaron S. Miller, Henry Lin, Chang Berm Kang, Lawrence C. Loh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Objective. For decades, Haitian migrant workers living in bateyes around La Romana, Dominican Republic, have been the focus of short-term volunteer medical groups from North America. To assist these efforts, this study aimed to characterize various health and social needs that could be addressed by volunteer groups. Design. Needs were assessed using semistructured interviews of community and professional informants, using a questionnaire based on a social determinants of health framework, and responses were qualitatively analysed for common themes. Results. Key themes in community responses included significant access limitations to basic necessities and healthcare, including limited access to regular electricity and potable water, lack of health insurance, high out-of-pocket costs, and discrimination. Healthcare providers identified the expansion of a community health promoter program and mobile medical teams as potential solutions. English and French language training, health promotion, and medical skills development were identified as additional strategies by which teams could support community development. Conclusion. Visiting volunteer groups could work in partnership with community organizations to address these barriers by providing short-term access to services, while developing local capacity in education, healthcare, and health promotion in the long-term. Future work should also carefully evaluate the impacts and contributions of such volunteer efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4354063
JournalJournal of Tropical Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology

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