What's in a number? Counting the African population of Portland, Oregon: Methods, issues and implications for community health collaborations

Anais Tuepker, Linda Boise, Folashade Onadeko, Teresa Gipson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose – Aware that “those who aren't counted don't count” in health program planning, a community coalition, called African Partnership for Health, attempts a current estimate of the African community living in Portland, Oregon, USA. This paper seeks to describe the findings. Design/methodology/approach – The paper's definition of the “African community” was crucially informed by community participation in the research process. The authors drew on existing publicly available data sources to estimate the size of the target population and identified the strengths and weaknesses of each source. Findings – Conservative estimations are of a 2010 African community population of 11,500-15,500 for the Portland metropolitan area. No data source on its own would have resulted in this estimate. Research limitations/implications – Areas for further research include creating practical systems to collect data on country of origin and to address an existing data bias towards refugees over immigrants. In the USA, more robust data collection systems are needed to estimate the impact of secondary migration on the size and characteristics of refugee and immigrant communities. Practical implications – Health program planners should be aware that existing data may include more information about some groups (refugees as opposed to immigrants) and emphasize some characteristics (race as opposed to country of origin). Originality/value – Including immigrant and refugee community members in the research process can result in more relevant definition of that community, which may lead to more effective program targeting and design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-173
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 17 2011


  • African immigrants
  • African refugees
  • Census
  • Communities
  • Participatory research
  • Secondary migration
  • US immigration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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