COVID-19 in Patients with a Primary Refugee-Associated Language in a Kentucky Emergency Department During 2020

Joel Hamm, Meredith S. Duncan, Nicole M. Robertson, James W. Keck, Katherine Crabtree

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


COVID-19 has heavily impacted the refugee population in the United States due to exposure risks, living and working conditions, and healthcare access, but little is known about outcomes. We reviewed emergency department visits to a Kentucky hospital among 2163 patients from March-December 2020, studying incidence of COVID-19 diagnosis for patients with a primary refugee-associated language compared to English speakers, and outcomes after diagnosis including hospitalization, length of stay, and in-hospital mortality. Patients in the population of interest had higher odds of COVID-19 diagnosis in the hospital (OR = 12.31, 95% CI 7.80–19.40), but, among those with COVID-19, lower odds of hospital admission (OR = 0.58, 95% CI 0.37–0.90) and shorter median length of stay (4.1 vs. 10.5 days) compared to English speakers. The study corroborates reports of comparatively higher COVID-19 incidence in patients speaking a primary refugee-associated language, but implies milder illness severity, possibly reflecting this population’s baseline health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)728-732
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Immigrant and Minority Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • COVID-19
  • Emergency department
  • Foreign language
  • Refugee

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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