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J Paediatr Child Health. 2016 Jan;52(1):72-9. doi: 10.1111/jpc.12989. Epub 2015 Sep 29.

Evaluation of a school screening programme for young people from refugee backgrounds.

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Multicultural Health Service, South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
General Practice, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Community Child Health, Sydney Children's Hospitals Network, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
New South Wales Refugee Health Service, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Women's and Children's Health, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.



To describe the development of the Optimising Health and Learning Program, guided by the only available published framework for the delivery of health services to newly arrived refugee children and report on the evaluation of the programme.


We conducted process and impact evaluation using a mixed methods approach. The sample was 294 refugee young people enrolled in two Intensive English Centres in New South Wales. We collected quantitative data (demographic and clinical information) as well as qualitative data via focus groups, key informant interviews, surveys and programme documentation. Qualitative data were subjected to thematic analysis; programme documents underwent document review.


There were high levels of programme participation (90%), and the yield from routine health screening was high (80% of participants screened positive for two or more health conditions). All identified programme development strategies were implemented; programme partners and participants reported satisfaction with the programme. Sixteen programme partners were identified with a high level of intersectoral collaboration reported. Significant in-kind contributions and seed funding enabled the uptake of the programme to increase from one to five Intensive English Centres over a 4-year period.


Process and impact evaluation identified that the programme was well implemented and met its stated objectives of increasing the detection of health conditions likely to impact on student health and learning; linkage of newly arrived students and their families with primary health care; and coordination of care across primary health and specialist services.


adolescent; cultural competency; delivery of healthcare; evaluation; health service; programme; refugee; school health; screening

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