Rima Afifi Portrait
Professor and Interim Head, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Community and Behavioral Health

For most of my academic career, I have worked at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. This has motivated my interest in conflict and health, and issues of migration and refugees.  Since moving to the University of Iowa, I have focused on understanding the context of immigrants and refugees in Iowa and the United States, to more clearly identify possible research and practice projects.  I am particularly interested in mental health; adolescent and youth wellbeing; and intervention development, implementation and evaluation.  As an approach, whenever possible, I use methods of Community Based Participatory Research, which give marginalized populations voice and agency. 


I am currently working on with colleagues in the Colleges of Public Health and Law, as well as the Linn County Health Department on a project to enhance mental health of refugees in Linn and Johnson counties of Iowa. This project is funded by the Iowa Office of Refugee Resettlement. The aims of the project are to understand provider and community views of mental health needs of refugees, and to subsequently ensure that services at the community and provider level are culturally relevant and preserve dignity. 


I am the current coordinator of the University of Iowa’s Immigrant and Refugee Health and Wellbeing Research Group, and trans-disciplinary group of faculty and students concerned with promoting wellbeing of refugees and immigrant in Iowa communities.