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VAM-Velferd, arbeid og migrasjon

HealthIntro - a study to increase the successful participation of refugees with health problems in the integration program

Alternative title: HelseIntro - en studie om helseperspektivet i introduksjonsprogrammet for flyktninger

Awarded: NOK 11.6 mill.

In HealthIntro, researchers, employees in North Norwegian municipalities (Harstad, Senja and Sør-Varanger) and refugees work together to better understand the situation of refugees with health problems during the introduction program and find out how municipalities can improve their work with refugees with health problems so that more refugees benefit from participating in the program. The introduction program is the most important measure to help refugees integrate into the labour market and society. It works for many, yet refugees with complex challenges such as health problems often need program prolongations or drop out of the program. In HealthIntro, we want to first identify which health problems, if any, lead mostly to prolongations, drop outs or later unemployment. Moreover, we want to explore why it is so difficult to adjust the program to refugees' health needs, and how refugees experience to be involved in decisions regarding program adjustment. Also, we want to gain a better understanding of the everyday life of refugee families with health problems and how everyday life challenges interfere with program participation. We will further use the research results to collaboratively develop new ideas how on municipalities can improve their work with refugees with health problems through dialogue seminars in the three North Norwegian municipalities. We will have a gender perspective throughout the whole project and have a special focus on womens' situation. Project start is June 2021.

Health problems seem one major reason for why not all refugees, especially women, fulfill the introduction program (IP) and enter the labour market after the end of the program. This challenges integration, and can lead to increased inequalities in society. The HealthIntro pilot-project and existing knowledge point towards a mismatch between the IP’s goal to integrate as many refugees as possible into the labour market as soon as possible, and the demanding situation refugees with complex (health) challenges face after resettlement in the host country. Particular barriers seem related to the little flexibility of the introduction law, difficulties with collaboration between public services and with involving refugees in decision-making regarding program adjustments. It is known that refugees have more health problems than the rest of the population. Additionally, current trends in integration policy result in increasing numbers of refugees with complex challenges in municipalities, often families in which one or several members have health problems. It is therefore of high importance to develop strategies that enable municipalities to work more effectively with these most vulnerable group of refugees in the early phase of resettlement and during the IP. In collaboration with three North Norwegian municipalities and refugees, we will explore how health problems interconnect with program participation on the national level, the municipal level and in a family context. Moreover, we will use this knowledge to collaboratively generate ideas on how to improve the strategic work in municipalities with refugees with health problems. More specifically, we will link registerdata on a national level, conduct explorative qualitative studies addressing the system level in municipalities, and the family and everday life context of refugee families, and conduct an action research inspired study to initiating change in municipalities.

Funding scheme:

VAM-Velferd, arbeid og migrasjon