Research Needs on Respiratory Health in Migrant and Refugee Populations. An Official American Thoracic Society and European Respiratory Society Workshop Report

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Abstract

Migrants represent a diverse population comprising workers, students, undocumented individuals, and refugees. Worldwide, approximately 1 billion people were considered migrants in 2016. Notably, about 65 million of these migrants were forcibly displaced from their homes, and 20 million were considered refugees. While the geopolitical consequences of such migration continue to be considered, less is known about the impact of these events on the respiratory health of migrants and refugees. In recognition of this knowledge gap, the American Thoracic Society and the European Respiratory Society brought together investigators with diverse and relevant expertise to participate in a workshop and develop a consensus on research needs on the respiratory health of migrants and refugees. The workshop focused on environmental and occupational hazards, chronic noninfectious diseases, and respiratory infectious diseases, which were presented by experts in three distinct sessions, each culminating with panel discussions. A writing committee collected summaries prepared by speakers and other participants, and the information was collated into a single document. Recommendations were formulated, and differences were resolved by discussion and consensus. The group identified important areas of research need, while emphasizing that reducing the burden of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep disorders in migrants and refugees will require a concerted effort by all stakeholders. Using best research practices, considering how research impacts policies affecting migrant and refugee populations, and developing new approaches to engage and fund trainees, clinical investigators, and public health practitioners to conduct high-quality research on respiratory health of migrants and refugees is essential.

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