Date of Paper/Work


Type of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Amy Ihlan


Organizational Leadership


Minnesota is home to the largest community of Somali refugees in the United States (Pavlish, Noor, and Brandt, 2010, p. 353). The Somali community has unique healthcare needs that current Western medicine is not meeting adequately. The Somali living in Minnesota are at risk for increased rates of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic conditions due to the change in lifestyle, eating habits, and stress caused by moving to the United States. The purpose of this research is to identify the healthcare needs, preferences, and practices of the Somali refugee community in Minnesota to better inform and guide physical therapy clinicians in providing effective, culturally appropriate healthcare. Data was collected from focus groups of Somali refugees currently living in Minnesota and interviews of select healthcare practitioners who have had significant experience working with patients who are Somali. Results highlight the difference in accessing healthcare in Somalia versus the United States, the lack of cultural reciprocity between healthcare providers and the Somali refugee community, and additional structural and internal barriers that exist for Somali refugees in receiving adequate healthcare. Recommendations include suggestions for physical therapy education, clinical practice, and the professional association which guides the practice of physical therapy.