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This article is the author’s final published version in PLoS Medicine, Volume 17, Issue 3, March 2020, Article number e1003065

The published version is available at Copyright © Pezzi et al.


BACKGROUND: Refugees and other select visa holders are recommended to receive a domestic medical examination within 90 days after arrival to the United States. Limited data have been published on the coverage of screenings offered during this examination across multiple resettlement states, preventing evaluation of this voluntary program's potential impact on postarrival refugee health. This analysis sought to calculate and compare screening proportions among refugees and other eligible populations to assess the domestic medical examination's impact on screening coverage resulting from this examination.

METHODS AND FINDINGS: We conducted a cross-sectional analysis to summarize and compare domestic medical examination data from January 2014 to December 2016 from persons receiving a domestic medical examination in seven states (California, Colorado, Minnesota, New York, Kentucky, Illinois, and Texas); one county (Marion County, Indiana); and one academic medical center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We analyzed screening coverage by sex, age, nationality, and country of last residence of persons and compared the proportions of persons receiving recommended screenings by those characteristics. We received data on disease screenings for 105,541 individuals who received a domestic medical examination; 47% were female and 51.5% were between the ages of 18 and 44. The proportions of people undergoing screening tests for infectious diseases were high, including for tuberculosis (91.6% screened), hepatitis B (95.8% screened), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV; 80.3% screened). Screening rates for other health conditions were lower, including mental health (36.8% screened). The main limitation of our analysis was reliance on data that were collected primarily for programmatic rather than surveillance purposes.

CONCLUSIONS: In this analysis, we observed high rates of screening coverage for tuberculosis, hepatitis B, and HIV during the domestic medical examination and lower screening coverage for mental health. This analysis provided evidence that the domestic medical examination is an opportunity to ensure newly arrived refugees and other eligible populations receive recommended health screenings and are connected to the US healthcare system. We also identified knowledge gaps on how screenings are conducted for some conditions, notably mental health, identifying directions for future research.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication 1.0 License.

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