Florida Public Health Review



Lack of reliable data about foreign-born groups creates gaps in demographic measurement methodology leading to a cycle of misinformed policy development. Haitian immigrants represent one of the largest foreign-born groups in Florida. Only limited information is available on the health care issues that they face. This paper describes the methodological design and strategies employed for the implementation of a study whose primary purpose was to identify and evaluate basic health care needs and barriers to health care access for the Haitian immigrant population of Miami, Florida. Information was collected during face-to-face interviews on demographic characteristic and health needs and access from a probability sample of county residents of Haitian origin. The community’s response was overwhelmingly positive. Out of the 210 households contacted, only six refused to participate. Study findings suggest that the study population is confronted with serious socio-economic difficulties with limited formal education and limited financial resources; an enormous need for health services; and daunting challenges to meet those needs. This study demonstrated that properly planned and culturally appropriate scientific investigations may succeed in accessing immigrants and other ‘hard-to-reach’ populations.