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Member of the scientific committee of a study on the health of refugees

The Department of Public Health, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, has conducted a study on the health (care use) of refugees. I was part of the scientific committee that advised the investigators during the different phases of the study.

From 2002 to 2005 I conducted a cross-sectional survey on the health and health care use of asylum seekers (without a residence permit) and refugees (with a residence permit) in the Netherlands ('Gevlucht-Gezond?'). The study found that both physical and mental health problems are highly prevalent among refugees and asylum seekers in the Netherlands, being the highest among asylum seekers. Both groups seemed to have equal access to the Dutch health care system in general.

However, the study could not say anything about how the health (care use) of persons changes during the transition from asylum seeker to refugee and whether the prevalence of problems would decrease if people are in the country for a longer time.  To address these questions, in 2009 a follow-up study was set-up ('Gevlucht-Gezond? II'), inviting the respondents of the earlier study to participate in this second wave.

I was asked to be part of the scientific committee that advised the primary investigators of the study regarding important (methodological) matters.

At the start of the study these issues related to e.g. finding the respondents of the earlier study, the content of the questionnaire and the information materials for the participants, selection and training of the interviewers. Besides the survey, also a medical record study was conducted for which the data collection protocol needed to be finalized as well as the data collection instrument.

Towards the end of the study the focus was on the content of the scientific articles and reports that would result from the study, reviewing these products and a strategy to disseminate the results of the study to the field.

In total five meetings of the scientific committee were held (which I contributed to from distance) and in between there was ad hoc contact in case issues arose.

The study has now been finalized and several publications are in the process of being submitted to or reviewed by journals. Recently an article has been published (in Dutch) in the NTvG. 

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Support the development of an applied epidemiology course

I am currently supporting I-TECH South Africa and the University of Washington with the development of an applied epidemiology distance learning course. One of the main tasks it to provide technical expertise related to the South African clinical and epidemiology contexts.

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