DOI: 10.1002/jac5.1923 ISSN: 2574-9870

A quantitative and qualitative analysis of a medication health literacy workshop for newly and recently arrived refugees

Gina M. Prescott, Shakanya Karunakaran, May Thandar
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Pharmacy



Refugees entering the United States are often unfamiliar with the healthcare system and have different medication beliefs. Since 2016, pharmacy students and faculty have been conducting medication literacy workshops to improve knowledge of medications for newly arriving refugees.


The primary study objective was to measure the newly arriving refugees' medication knowledge after a one‐time educational workshop.


This was a retrospective quantitative and qualitative evaluation. Participants engaged in a student‐led 90‐min educational workshop utilizing interpreters, translated materials, and demonstrations. Topics included medical definitions, information on getting sick, medication use, and label reading. A translated, postworkshop evaluation included 22 questions grouped into the following categories: demographics (n = 4), medication use (n = 7), label reading (n = 6), access (n = 3), and cultural beliefs (n = 2). Three optional, free‐response questions regarding overall workshop feedback were included. Quantitative data was analyzed utilizing descriptive statistics. Thematic analysis was used to analyze qualitative data. Two independent coders reviewed each free‐response question and discussed any discrepancies for consensus. The study team developed key themes based on the codes.


Twenty‐one workshops were conducted with 419 participants from 42 countries. Correct responses were highest for medication beliefs (84%), label reading (78%), access (74%), and medication use (73%). Prescription label reading ability was high (86%), while preventative medicine understanding was lower (34%). Three major learning themes developed, including (1) Cultural differences impact medication habits, (2) Knowing provider roles and how to access different services in healthcare settings was important, and (3) Understanding how to read a label was useful. Researchers found that demonstrations were helpful in participants' learning and that additional education on prevention and specific disease states would be useful.


Newly and recently arrived refugees were able to correctly identify basic medication health information through a medication literacy workshop. Additional classes exploring other topics, including preventative medicine and medications, should be considered.

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