Haitian immigrants, health-seeking, health behavior, illness behavior, decision-making


Black people in the U.S. die at younger ages, have significantly higher rates of death from treatable medical conditions, are more likely to have late-stage breast and colon cancer diagnoses and more likely to die from these cancers, and are at higher risk for chronic illnesses compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Accessing healthcare is crucial to health and well-being; however, U.S. immigrants' use of healthcare services is far less than native-born Americans. Haitian immigrants experience health disparities at the highest rate compared to other Black immigrants in the U.S. Given their unique history, culture, and immigration experience, it is necessary to understand the health-seeking decision-making process and behaviors among Haitian immigrants. This study thus explored the following research question: How do Haitian immigrants make decisions about their health-seeking behavior? In response, this qualitative study used the Grounded Theory approach, collecting data through semi-structured interviews and a focus group with adult Haitian immigrants living in Central Florida. This led to the development of a theoretical model which shows that Haitian immigrants engage in the following process: 1. Self-Diagnosing, 2. Self-Treating: Informal Health-seeking, 3. Self-Monitoring, 4. Considering Formal Health-seeking, and 5. Seeking Medical Services: Formal Health-seeking. The model also demonstrates how barriers impede the steps towards formal health-seeking; however, Haitian immigrants can bypass these barriers under specific conditions. Understanding this phenomenon of health-seeking decision-making has implications for culturally-appropriate interventions and healthcare and housing policies to address health disparities and promote well-being among Haitian immigrants.

Completion Date




Committee Chair

Yalim, Asli


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Community Innovation and Education


School of Public Administration

Degree Program

Public Affairs; Social Work Track






In copyright

Release Date

May 2024

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Campus Location

UCF Downtown

Accessibility Status

Meets minimum standards for ETDs/HUTs