One of the ways the social work profession in the United States relates to the international community is through our long-standing social work with refugees.  The particular migration of refugee populations and specialized services to them began with the post-World War II era.  This nation’s population is primarily comprised of immigrants and their descendents, and social work’s roots are embedded in the early settlement house movement which helped new arrivals. Later, the welcoming of a legally defined category, refugees, built on the Post World War II experience and moved through subsequent waves of refugees from Viet Nam and later war victims from Africa and Central America.  A steady, though fluxing, stream of people escaping trauma in hope of finding a better life is regulated through the United Nations with each country designating the number it will accept from given regions. Just as the term “refugee” is a specialized one, the field of working with the those particular migrants who are fleeing oppression includes several other legally defined categories, each carrying international and federal governmental status which places them in particular streams of service supports.  This research webpage provides an overview of refugee-related research as well as links to key stakeholder organizations engaged in supporting refugee-related practice and research.

Before exploring the social work research which addresses the needs and services for these populations, an introduction to several definitional categories is in order.

Definitions of Populations

  • Refugee: Persons who flee persecution for protection in another country. These persons are so designated by international law and their entry into a host country is determined by internationally cooperating governmental and private agents.
  • Displaced Person: Persons who flee persecution in their locality but remain in their own country.
  • Evacuee: Persons who flee their locality due to natural or man-made disasters.
  • Asylee: Persons fleeing persecution who enter another country by means other than the established refugee process and who later seek legal protection status in the country to which they fled. These persons must establish conditions similar to those required by refugees, and they may not be eligible for some services until their legal status is regularized.
  • Unaccompanied Minor: Persons under the legal majority age in this country who arrive as refugees but not as members of families or related to persons who are of majority age.  While these persons may have been considered adults in their country, they are deemed to be in need of child welfare protection services here.
  • Victims of Torture: Persons who establish that they, personally, suffered torture as part of the persecution they fled, and, as such, were at such risk that they could not await the normal refugee process to escape, resulting in their seeking asylum as a torture victim.
  • Victims of Human Trafficking: Persons who come to this country understanding that they are arriving legally for employment purpose, but are in reality brought illegally through traffickers and are held captive in their places of work. These persons often are required to turn their passports over to their “handlers” and then have no proof of citizenry in any country. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003 – Eligibility for Federally Funded or Administered Benefits provide additional information on status and services.

Service Partnerships

Public Agencies

Two executive branch cabinet departments are involved in the process of accepting refugees to the United States and helping them settle here.

  • The Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (DoS/PRM) works with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to determine the numbers of world-wide refugees that the US can/will accept in a given year and from which countries. Through the DoS, the United States provides services throughout the world as well as the resettlement of refugees in this country.
  • The US Department of Health and Human Services through its Administration on Children and Families Office of Refugee Resettlement (DHHS/ACF/ORR) sets policy and provides funding for states and private organizations who provide initial housing services, health care, and employment-readiness services to new arrivals.

This site provides an overview and additional information on special populations entitled to specialized services, such as unaccompanied minors, torture victims, or victims of human trafficking. ata on arrivals by country of origin and state of initial resettlement for the past five years:

Through an Intra-Agency Agreement between the DHHS Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Mental Health Services (SAMHSA/CSAT) and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), refugee mental health consultation and technical assistance are provided to Federal, State, or local agencies. Priority is given to ORR-funded programs. For additional info see: To access a Listserv for sharing refugee health information and updates go to, click on Browse and then look for REFUGEEHEALTHL.  ORR also partners with CDC’s Office of Global Health.  Further information can be found at:

An extensive Annotated Bibliography on Refugee Mental Health Contents which includes 230 articles is available at:

Private Agencies

An established network of national agencies with local affiliates has long worked in partnership with the government.  Social workers have provided leadership in both sectors. Further information about this network can be found at:

Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services

BRYCS is funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services. BRYCS is ORR’s national technical assistance provider on refugee child welfare. BRYCS Bulletin is a monthly resource e-newsletter available via the site above.

Social Work Research Related to Refugees

Below are references relating to refugee related research.  Two special journal issues addressed refugee issues, including some research:

Journal-of-Immigrant-and-Refugee-Services. 1(1): 2002.

This issue marks the birth of a new scholarly publication devoted to the   exploration of immigrant and refugee concerns. The goal of the journal is  to provide articles on global immigration issues including policy  analysis, individual and societal experiences, accultural behavior, and  cross-cultural dialogues on theory, research, and practice. The journal  also features a column on the Internet, discussing Internet content and  practice from an international perspective. Book reviews, case studies,  research, program development, and current events will be included.

The following abstracts are selected from refugee-related articles listed in recent Social Work Abstracts. Of 163 articles relating to refugees, only one-third were reports of research on services or policy.  Many of these were single case studies of intervention models or refugee populations.  The articles are grouped by categories; and although several may have relevance to multiple categories, each is only listed once.  The categories are:

  • Trauma and Mental Health – These articles focus on psychosocial stress, adjustment, and mental health issues.
  • Culture – These articles focus on specific refugee cultures and it’s relevance to the resettlement process
  • Policy – These articles focus on refugee resettlement policy and evaluation thereof.
  • Services and Interventions – These articles focus on social work service and/or intervention moduls and evaluation thereof.
  • Systemic Issues – These articles focus on demographic, social, economic, and related social issues.
  • Research Methodology – These articles focus on the research process itself.

Community Development Journal, 40(2), April, 2005

This special issue set out to identify examples of the community development approach to help with the rising number of armed conflicts spawning Diaspora refugee populations into numerous other countries…..(and) includes a listing of esources for those working with refugees and asylum seekers.

Trauma and Mental Health

‘I shout with fear at night.’ Understanding the traumatic experiences of refugees and asylum seekers.
Weaver-H-N; Burns-B-J. Journal of Social Work. 1(2): 147-164, Aug. 2001.

In recent years, the plight of refugees and asylum seekers has garnered  significant public attention. Yet many social workers find they have made  limited preparations for meeting the needs of refugee clients. This  article presents the results of a study conducted at the largest refugee  shelter in the US. Fifty-eight adult asylum seekers staying at the shelter  were interviewed about their experiences, including trauma and subsequent  physical and emotional symptoms. Most respondents experienced trauma in  their home country. Additionally nightmares were often reported as  psychological sequelae attributed to these traumatic events. Helping  professionals can learn from this information and become sensitized to some of the struggles of this population. Understanding that some refugee clients ‘shout with fear at night’ can help us to appreciate the lasting impact trauma can have and can guide our work with this vulnerable yet resilient population. Helping professionals are challenged to become better versed in the at-risk position of asylum seekers and engage in  advocacy to encourage greater protection of this population.

The behavioral and emotional problems of former unaccompanied refugee children 3-4 years after their return to Vietnam.
Loughry-M; Flouri-E. Queen Elizabeth House, Refugee Studies Centre, Univ. of Oxford OXI 3LA,  England. Child Abuse and Neglect. 25(2): 249-263, Feb. 2001.

The objective of this study was to examine the behavioral and emotional  problems of former unaccompanied refugee children who had repatriated to  Vietnam from refugee centers in Hong Kong and South East Asia. The  children were compared with a matched sample of children who had never  left Vietnam. The participants consisted of 455 Vietnamese children aged  between 10 and 22 years; 238 of the children had formerly resided in  refugee camps without their parents. Data were collected using the  Achenbach Youth Self-Report (YSR), the Cowen Perceived Self-Efficacy  scale, a Social Support scale as well as an Exposure to Trauma scale. No significant difference was found between the two groups of children on the YSR Total Score. The former refugee children had significantly lower.  Externalizing scores and failed marginally to report significantly higher.  Internalizing scores than the local children. The study showed that the perceived self-efficacy, number of social supports and experience of  social support did not differ between the two groups of children. Further  analysis showed that a significant interaction between the immigration  status of the children and the children’s subjective perception of their  current standard of living explained the differences in the YSR. The  results suggest that the experience of living without parents in a refugee  camp does not lead to increased behavioral and emotional problems in the  immediate years after repatriation. (Journal abstract.)

War traumas and community violence: psychological, behavioral, and academic outcomes among Khmer refugee adolescents.
Berthold-S-M. Research Insights, Altadena, CA 91101. Journal of Multicultural Social Work. 8(1/2): 15-46, 2000.

This cross sectional survey study examined the relationship between  exposure to war traumas and community violence and academic, behavioral,  and psychological well-being among Khmer refugee adolescents. The 144  adolescents studied were exposed to high rates of violence. One-third had  symptoms indicative of PTSD, and two-thirds had symptoms indicative of  clinical depression. The number of violent events they were exposed to  significantly predicted their level of PTSD, personal risk behaviors, and  GPA, but not their level of depression or behavior problems reported at  school. Perceived social support made a difference in the lives of these  youth and predicted better outcomes. The implications for research and  practice are discussed. (This is one of five articles in a special issue  on violence among diverse populations.). (Journal abstract.)

Child psychological maltreatment in Palestinian families.
Khamis-V. Dept. of Social Sciences, Bethlehem Univ., Bethlehem, West Bank, Palestine. Child Abuse and Neglect. 24(8): 1047-1059, Aug. 2000.

This study was designed to identify predictors of child psychological   maltreatment (CPM) in Palestinian families. It examined the relative contributions of child characteristics, parents’ sociodemographics, and economic hardship, in addition to family’s characteristics such as family values, family ambiance, gender inequities, parental support, harsh discipline, and other forms of maltreatment, to psychological maltreatment. The sample consisted of 1,000 school-age children who ranged in age from 12 to 16 years. Two school counselors carried the interviews with children at school, and with the available parent at home. Child  school performance was specifically associated with CPM. The two-parent   families and parents from refugee camps appeared to employ more  psychological maltreatment of their children than single-parent families and parents from urban and rural areas. Parents who perceived that the family did not have enough money to meet the child’s needs were more likely to abuse their children psychologically. Gender inequities, harsh discipline, family ambiance, and lack of parental support were the most  salient predictors of CPM. Child psychological maltreatment occurred concurrently with other forms of maltreatment such as physical abuse and child labor. Parental psychological maltreatment proved to be weakened with high traditional family values. A significant proportion of the sample could be considered psychologically maltreated. Intervention and prevention efforts should be focused on child welfare, educational programs aimed at high-risk parents, and mobilization of the community and social services agencies.

Psychological well-being of the former Vietnamese political prisoner in the United States.
Nguyen-W-H. The Univ. of Texas at Arlington, PhD, May 1994.

This study tests a causal model of psychological well-being among former  Vietnamese political prisoners now resettled in the United States. The  following major questions were examined: (1) Does psychological distress directly predict psychological well-being? (2) Do social supports directly predict psychological well-being? (3) Does physical health directly predict psychological well-being? (4) Do background variables directly or indirectly predict psychological well-being? The sample was comprised of 181 former Vietnamese political male prisoners in metropolitan Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and San Jose, Texas. Four hundred questionnaires were provided in Vietnamese and mailed to the former political prisoners in those localities in January 1994. The method of analysis used was  hierarchial multiple regression within the framework of path analysis. The path model was constructed by six exogenous variables–also known as background variables: age, education, marital status, length in detention, sponsorship, and religion; and 10 endogenous variables: psychological well -being, psychological distress, social support, physical health, employment, income, worry about children, length in the United States, thinking about detention, and English proficiency. Four variables were found to significantly predict psychological well-being directly: (1) psychological distress, (2) social support, (3) physical health, and (4) age. Social support had the strongest direct effect on psychological well  -being. The psychological distress of the sample was at the clinical cutoff level, suggesting that the former Vietnamese political prisoners might be at risk for mental health problems. Overall, the final path model explained 42 percent of variance in psychological well-being of the former Vietnamese political prisoners in this study. Implications for refugee policy-making relating to the former Vietnamese political prisoners and social work practice with this population were drawn for future policymaking and practice.

Psychological well-being of refugee children.
Ajdukovic-M; Ajdukovic-D. School of Social Work, Faculty of Law, Univ. of Zagreb, Trg M. Tita 14,  41000 Zagreb, Croatia. Child Abuse and Neglect. 17(6): 843-54, Nov./Dec. 1993.

Two groups of refugee families participated in a program aimed at  preventing children’s mental health problems. The program attempted to  gain insight into the character and scope of problems of refugee families  and to develop and implement a spectrum of interventions that would meet  their specific psychological needs. Data about the family situation and the psychosocial adaptation of refugee children to displacement was gathered during detailed structured interviews with the mothers, while the study families were accommodated either in a shelter or with host families. A considerable range of stress-related reactions among displaced children were identified (e.g., sleeping and eating disorders, separation fears, and withdrawal or aggression). Refugee children exhibited a significantly higher incidence of stress reactions if their mothers had difficulty coping with the stress of displacement. The findings also  indicated that children in the collective shelter were at greater mental health risk than their peers housed with host families.

Psychosocial functioning of Central American refugee children.
Masser-D-S. Medical Social Services, Children’s Hospital and Health Center, 8001 Frost St., San Diego, CA 92123. Child Welfare. 71(5): 439-56, Sept./Oct. 1992.

In a qualitative study of the functioning of Central American refugee children in Los Angeles, special attention was given to two questions:  What factors in a child’s history appear to be the most significant? What  symptoms do these children typically manifest? The variables that served  as the focus of the analysis were (1) whether the children witnessed war violence in their country of origin; (2) whether the children had a significant separation from their primary caregiver; and (3) whether other significant problems, such as physical abuse, familial psychopathology, or familial alcoholism, were present. Findings indicated that the combination of variables was significant for the development of posttraumatic stress disorder.

The impact of social support and psychological distress on the acculturation adjustment of Cambodian refugees.
Strober-S-B. Catholic Univ. of America, DSW Dissertation, May 1990.

The impact of environmental social support and psychological distress on  the acculturation adjustment of a Cambodian refugee population was  determined from a structured interview schedule administered to a random sample of 102 refugees. The data indicated that 50 percent of the variance in acculturation adjustment was explained by the combination of education, length of time in the country, and psychological distress. In addition, there was a strong relationship between acculturation adjustment and lack of psychological distress, and a weak relationship between perceived social support and acculturation adjustment. Finally, perceived social support was not significantly related to psychological distress. These results suggest that decreased psychological distress promotes  acculturation adjustment, and that traditional family and community supports cannot be counted on to alleviate emotional problems for Cambodian refugees. The development of culturally sensitive educational and mental health services is recommended, and specific characteristics of  these services are identified.

The psychological status of Vietnamese Chinese women in refugee camps.
Nishimoto-R-H; Chau-K-L; Roberts-R-W. School of Social Work, Univ. of Southern California, Los Angeles 90007.  Journal of Women and Social Work. 4(3): 51-64, Fall 1989.

The psychological resources that refugee women bring to bear in refugee  camps are important predictors of their and their families’ eventual  adaptation to their country of final settlement. Reported on is a study of  the psychological status of 59 Vietnamese Chinese women in refugee camps  in Hong Kong who were awaiting permanent resettlement. The study also  examined factors that affected the mental health of these refugees such as  the women’s report of stressful life events, the availability of social supports, and various aspects of their experience in the refugee camps.  Implications for social work services and social policy are presented.

Mental health needs of Vietnamese refugees.
Flaskerud-J-H; Anh-N-T. School of Nursing, Univ. of California, 10833 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles  90024. Hospital and Community Psychiatry. 39(4): 435-37, Apr. 1988.

A two-part study of the mental health problems of Vietnamese refugees surveyed the records of two mental health centers in Los Angeles and interviewed key informants. The records survey found that over 64 percent of the sample of 81 Vietnamese patients, as compared with 28 percent of other center patients, had diagnoses of depression or adjustment disorders. The presenting complaints of the Vietnamese reflected a tendency to somatize and included symptoms of anger, depression, and anxiety. The informants cited major needs of the Vietnamese in three areas: adjustment of resettlement, mental health education, and assistance with problems in living. The implications of the study argue for the  placement of refugees in existing ethnic refugee communities in order to permit utilization of a social support network.

Evaluating effects of the employment of Vietnamese refugee wives on their family roles and mental health.
Hirayama-K-K. School of Social Work, Wayne State Univ., Detroit, Mich. California Sociologist. 5(1): 96-110, 1982.

A study examined the effects of Vietnamese refugee wives’ employment on the  division of labor between husband and wife and on the wives’ mental  health. The sample consisted of seventy-three Indochinese wives who came  to the United States between 1975 and 1978. Findings revealed that the  wives’ employment affected the division of labor only in the area of housework. Although working wives could count on their husbands to help around the house more often than could nonworking wives, housework generally remained the domain of the wife regardless of her employment status. The employment of wives was not directly related to poor mental health. Data revealed that the lower the husband’s occupational status, the greater the proportion of wives at risk of developing psychological disorders. A large percentage of wives reported experiencing loneliness, a general sense of isolation, unworthiness, and loss. These findings  appeared to be a manifestation of their reactions to environmental and status changes as new immigrants. For Vietnamese wives who have healthy families, few children, higher levels of education, good English skills, and a husband in a white-collar job, employment may be viewed as a way of opening new avenues for assimilating a new culture, establishing contacts, developing additional skills, and enhancing the quality of life.


Towards culturally competent practice in child and adolescent mental health.
Walker-S. International-Social Work. 48(1): 49-62, Jan 2005.

The mental health needs of refugee and asylum-seeking children and  adolescents are failing to be addressed. This article evaluates evidence from studies designed to address this omission, and describes a contemporary culturally competent model based on holistic, psychosocial principles of social work practice. (Journal abstract)

Physical activity programs for refugee Somali women: working out in a new country.
Guerin-P-B; Diiriye-R-O; Corrigan-C; Guerin-Bb. Women and Health. 38(1): 83-99, 2003.

Islamic refugee women from non-westernized countries face a number of   challenges in adapting to their new country, especially when that new country is westernized and is not Islamic. Refugees are primarily women and children, so it is important that women be in their best health because they usually bear the responsibility of caring for each other and children, often in very difficult situations. Maintaining or obtaining good levels of physical activity contributes to good health: mentally, physically, and socially. At the request of women in the local Somali  community, a number of initiatives were taken to increase their opportunities for physical activity. Through interviews, observations, and conversations, the authors explored barriers to fitness and exercise; the social, physical, and cultural effects of physical activity; and solutions to facilitate Somali women’s access to fitness and exercise opportunities.

Physical activity interventions included exercise classes in a community  center used by the Somali community, trial memberships at a local women-only fitness center, and walking and sports groups. Discussed are the  procedural issues related to setting-up these physical activity opportunities, the results of interviews with 37 of the women about their health and perceptions and issues relating to the physical activity options, and recommendations for setting up similar classes with other Somali or Islamic communities.

Social work with African refugee children and their families.
Okitikpi-T; Aymer-C, 33 Creighton Rd., Queens Pk, London NW6 6EE, UK. Child and Family Social Work. 8(3): 213-222, Aug. 2003.

This article explores the issues and dilemmas that arise when social workers attempt to work with African refugee and asylum seeking children and their families. There is a complex interplay between social workers’ skills and knowledge in this area and the prevailing social attitudes towards these groups of service users. By initially setting the context of mass movement of peoples from situations of danger in their countries of origin, the discussion highlights the key issues and shows the tensions of practice intervention in this area. Drawing on a small-scale research study with social workers and discussions with immigration officers and workers in voluntary agencies working with refugees and asylum seekers, the article draws some conclusions about the lessons that can be learned in order to improve practice. (This is one of six articles in this special  issue on children as asylum seekers and refugees.). (Journal abstract.)

Offending patterns among Southeast Asians in the State of California.
Kposowa-A-J; Tsunokai-G-T. Dept. of Sociology, 1214 Watkins Hall, Univ. of California, 900 University. Ave., Riverside 92521. Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice. 1(1): 93-113, 2003.

Using California’s Monthly Arrest and Citation Register (MACR) data collected by the California Department of Justice for the years 1991-1996, this study examined odds of arrest for various violent and lucrative type offenses, across seven different Asian ethnic groups. To avoid selection bias, African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans were also included in the analysis. Logistic regression models were fitted to the MACR data. Consistent with theoretical hypotheses, the authors found that Southeast Asians, in particular Vietnamese, were over-represented in every arrest category, while non-refugee Asian groups were considerably underrepresented in arrests. Cambodians, Laotians, and Vietnamese were at significantly higher odds of arrest for crimes that tended to produce financial gain, such as theft, car theft, and petty theft. The authors suggest that their findings on Southeast Asians may in part reflect the unique nature of the immigration of members of this group to the U.S., and the multiple disadvantages that they continue to experience, for example, low human capital, lack of English proficiency, and ethnic prejudice and discrimination. Results suggest the need for more programs aimed at assisting Southeast Asian refugee immigrants with their transition into American society.

Ethnic enclaves and the economic success of immigrants–evidence from a natural experiment.
Edin-P–A; Fredriksson-P; Aslund-O. The Quarterly Journal of Economics. 118(1): 329-357, Feb. 2003.

Recent immigrants tend to locate in ethnic “enclaves” within metropolitan areas. The economic consequence of living in such enclaves is still an unresolved issue. We use data from an immigrant policy initiative in Sweden, when government authorities distributed refugee immigrants across locales in a way that we argue is exogenous. This policy initiative provides a unique natural experiment, which allows us to estimate the causal effect on labor market outcomes of living in enclaves. We find substantive evidence of sorting across locations. When sorting is taken into account, living in enclaves improves labor market outcomes for less skilled immigrants: the earnings gain associated with a standard deviation increase in ethnic concentration is 13 percent. Furthermore, the quality of the enclave seems to matter. Members of high-income ethnic groups gain more from living in an enclave than members of low-income ethnic groups.

Liberian refugee women: a qualitative study of their participation in planning camp programmes.
Kreitzer-L. International Social Work. 45(1): 45-58, Jan. 2002.

Social work is a unique profession in that it is involved in many aspects  of life situations and can be found in many organizations in most countries of the world. Its professional values and beliefs, shaped by many decades of knowledge and critical analysis, have embraced the concerns and needs of people in society who, for one reason or another, experience discrimination and subordination where they live. In recent years social work has been re-evaluating its role in connection with the international arena of global interdependence (Hokenstad and Midgley, 1997), in particular with respect to refugee situations, in a camp  setting, in communities hosting the refugees, and in national and international organizations, cannot be ignored. One significant contribution is through ongoing research concerning refugee issues. In particular, qualitative research, which has experienced a new growth in social work research (Halmi, 1996), can play a crucial role in identifying themes important to the continual improvement of refugees’ situations. In summer 1997, the author was involved in a four-month qualitative research at Buduburam Refugee Camp, Ghana. She lived in the camp, worked alongside camp staff and refugees, and collected data for research concerning women’s participation in camp program planning and implementation. Through the voices of refugee women, factors were highlighted that helped and/or hindered women from being involved in planning and implementing programs in the camp. The value of this type of research cannot be underestimated as few camp reports center on the voices of the refugees themselves (Camus-Jacques, 1989; Harrell-Bond, 1986). The themes identified in this research have implications for refugee work at the local (camp site and  local community), national (refugee board), and international (international organizations working with refugees) levels.

Critical assumptions in providing aid to forced and voluntary migrants in Managua, Nicaragua.
Noble-J-H–Jr; Ahearn-F-L–Jr. Catholic Univ. of America, Washington, DC. Journal of Social Work Research and Evaluation. 2(2): 125-141, Fall-Winter-2001.

Aid providers have espoused several assumptions about refugees and   displaced persons and their needs that were reflected in a recent international conference invitation, which declared (a) “it makes little sense to separate the problems of refugees, stayees, internally displaced people and returnees in a particular crisis area” and (b) “ongoing gender-blindness in the practice of refugee-aid…the model of ‘the refugee’ as an adult male too often feeds policies” (In DRA, 1998, pp. 1-2). These assumptions are addressed using data collected in a 1997 random sample of 235 heads of household whose lives had been disrupted by the 1981-1990 civil war in Nicaragua and had since resettled in a Managuan barrio. Undifferentiated and gender-specific regression equations were calculated to disclose which, if any, predictors of stress and receipt of material and emotional aid are subject to control by would-be providers of aid.

There was partial support for the assumed lack of differences between forced and voluntary migrants but no support for statistically significant gender differences in explaining either stress levels or the receipt of aid. (This is one of 15 articles in this special issue on refugees and immigrants.). (Journal abstract.)

The challenges of resettlement among male, government-assisted Iraqi refugees in Canada.
Michalski-J-H. Dept. of Sociology, Trent Univ., Peterborough, Ontario K9J 7B8, Canada. Journal of Social Work Research and Evaluation. 2(2): 207-226, Fall-Winter-2001.

This study examined the challenges faced by Iraqi refugees during their first year of resettlement in Canada. The thesis suggests that the Canadian government had only a limited capacity to meet the Iraqi refugees’ settlement needs, while many of the community-based agencies suffered budget cuts that further reduced their capacity to respond effectively to their plight. The degree to which Iraqi refugees adjusted successfully was linked to their access to informal support systems and the Iraqi community rather than as a result of their experiences with an integrated, responsive settlement service delivery system. The prospects for long-term adjustment and integration into Canadian society are considered based on interviews during the refugees’ first year of resettlement. Finally, a discussion of best practices suggests that enhancing refugee settlement and adaptation may require a more innovative approach linking community-based services and informal support networks.

(This is one of 15 articles in this special issue on refugees and immigrants.).

Demographic characteristics as determinants in qualitative differences in the adjustment of Vietnamese refugees.
Matsuoka-J. School of Social Work, Univ. of Hawaii-Manoa, 2500 Campus Rd., Honolulu  96822. Journal of Social Service Research. 17(3/4): 1-21, 1993.

This article focuses on Vietnamese refugees and is based on a descriptive study designed to assess their adjustment patterns. More specifically, the study examines variations between subgroups (e.g., men and women, age groups, etc.) in terms of their acculturation attitudes and mental health. The data derived from this study will help social workers begin to conceptualize part of the process underlying the Vietnamese refugee experience and provide a necessary step in the development of a knowledge base to guide further research, or practice and policy development.

Adjustment and identity formation of Lao refugee adolescents.
Schapiro-A. 9 Laxfield Rd., Weston, MA 02193. Smith College Studies in Social Work. 58(3): 157-81, June 1988.

An exploratory study was undertaken to ascertain how Laotian refugee adolescents are adjusting to life in the U.S., with particular focus on areas that impact on identity formation. Potential problem areas examined were family relationships, school functioning, social status and acceptance, peer relationships, and future planning. Data were obtained from a convenience sample of 15 ethnic Lao teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19 who represented seven families. The study used an open-ended interview structured by a 30-item interview protocol. The instrument included questions on life in Laos, the escape, the refugee camp experience, impressions on arrival in the U.S., the school experience, friends, relationships with parents, future plans, and current problems.

The material obtained was analyzed for common themes that might set this group apart from other immigrant groups and for adaptive and maladaptive coping methods used by the adolescents. The primary stressor encountered by the subjects on their arrival in the U.S. was racial prejudice; other significant factors included academic and language deficits, conflicts with parents, difficulty finding an appropriate peer group, and problems adjusting to lowered social and economic status. All but three subjects appeared to be functioning well, although nine showed signs of depression.Outreach to this group by culturally sensitive and compassionate social workers is warranted.

The Haitian refugee: concerns for health care providers.
Wilk-R-J. Dept. of Social Work, Univ. of South Florida, Tampa. Social Work in Health Care. 11(2): 61-74, 1985/86.

What are the major problems Haitian refugees encounter with regard to the health care system? What biopsychosocial factors are related to their health problems? A study that addressed these and other questions gathered interview data from 20 American and Haitian American health care professionals who regularly interact with Haitian refugees. Findings revealed several areas of concern among the subjects, including intestinal problems, malnutrition, venereal disease, and a high birthrate.  Gastrointestinal problems emerged as the chief complaint of Haitian adults; others included tuberculosis and related chest pain. Subjects  reported that Haitian infants and children are often plagued by diarrhea, anemia, worms, and upper-respiratory problems. They indicated that initially, Haitians attempt to treat illnesses by themselves, postponing the seeking of professional care because of cultural beliefs, a lack of money, and the like. The central feature of Haitians’ behavior in regard to health care was the inability to comprehend what is being said to them, either because of a limited education or language barriers. The implications of these findings for social work are discussed.

Social support and alienation among Vietnamese Americans: implications for refugee policymaking and resettlement.
Tran-Thanh-V. Texas, Arlington, Ph.D., May 1985.

A sample of 180 Vietnamese Americans living in Texas and Oklahoma participated in a study that focused on social support and alienation among this population. Data were gathered by means of a questionnaire that was written in both the Vietnamese and English languages, and path analysis was used to test the hypothetical model of alienation among Vietnamese Americans. Path analysis revealed that social support, anxiety over social interaction, identities, marital status, and length of time in the United States significantly directly predicted alienation. As hypothesized, social support had the strongest direct effect on  alienation; those who had a strong degree of social support had minimal feelings of alienation. Social support also had indirect effects on alienation in relation to happiness and anxiety over social interaction. In addition, happiness, the ability to communicate in English, age, education, types of sponsorship, and goals indirectly affected the degree of alienation. Implications of these findings for refugee policymaking and resettlement are discussed.

Vietnamese in America: an analysis of adaptational patterns.
Matsuoka-Jon-K. Michigan, Ph.D., May 1985.

A study of Vietnamese refugees who had been living in the United States for four years hypothesized that (1) the adaptational patterns, attitudes, and adjustment problems of Vietnamese refugees are similar to those of earlier Asian immigrant groups, (2) the attitudes of this refugee group toward life in the United States and mental problems vary according to demographic differences, and (3) pre- and ostevacuation experiences account for varying degrees of mental health problems and differential attitudes toward acculturation among refugees. Findings indicated that the adjustment patterns of Vietnamese refugees were similar to those of  previous Asian American groups in terms of cultural conflict and the acquisition of employment and a new language, thereby supporting the first hypothesis. Like immigrant parents before them, many Vietnamese parents had aspirations for the success of their children’s generation, in addition to a concern about their children’s ability to retain traditional values. Some support also emerged for the second hypothesis. Expected differences in some measures of adjustment were found. Problems related to adjustment were most prevalent among older age groups, nonmarried people, educated people, members of Eastern religious groups, religious people in general, and ethnic Vietnamese (versus Chinese). Although sex differences emerged, they were inconsistent. Finally, data failed to support the third hypothesis.

Social work and the Vietnamese refugee.
Timberlake-E-M; Cook-K-O. Doctoral Program, National Catholic School of Social Service, Catholic  Univ. of America, Washington, DC. Social Work. 29(2): 108-13, 1984.

The very concept of “social work” does not exist in Vietnamese culture.  Vietnamese refugees who have resettled in the United States have a limited  understanding of social work and other mental health professions as they are practiced here. Similarly, many social workers have a limited understanding of the differences between the culture and helping professions of Vietnam and the United States and do not grasp the significance for social work intervention of the refugees’ experiences of flight, losses, and resettlement. The relevant features of the cultural background of the Vietnamese are delineated, the trauma of their refugee experiences are described, and their patterns of coping with the  resettlement process are outlined. Also explored is the role of the social worker in the assessment of and the intervention with the problems encountered by Vietnamese refugees who must cope with and adapt to their new situations.

Successful refugee resettlement: Vietnamese values, beliefs, and strategies.
Ferguson-Barbara-R, California, Berkeley, DSW, May 1984.

A qualitative two-part study explored the resettlement experiences of Vietnamese refugees living in the San Francisco Bay area. It identified those variables that eased the refugees’ transition to life in America. In the first phase of the study, 145 subjects participated in informal interviews and were studied through participant observation for nine months. Subjects equated success with economic independence, family unity, and educational achievement. In some cases, a sense of freedom also connoted success. Fifty members of thirty successful families served as subjects in the second phase of the study and participated in intensive, unstructured interviews. These subjects identified six models of  adaptation in occupational, social, and emotional realms. These models were the professional, the high technology, the managerial, the self -employed, the community service, and the domestic duties models. The subjects attributed their success to advantages related to their backgrounds, especially in the areas of personality, family, education, and culture. Their positive attitudes were based on a realistic adaptation to American life, on the pride they maintained in their Vietnamese heritage, and on the idea that hard work, study, and family cooperation are essential to the achievement of success in America. The personal and cultural resources, values, and beliefs of the Vietnamese, documented by accounts of their arduous travels and early resettlement experiences, were found to be compatible with American ideals. Data suggest that counseling and group work should focus on restoring a positive self-image to Vietnamese refugees and should emphasize their potential strengths rather than their deficits.

Survival of a refugee culture: the long-term gift exchange between Tibetan refugees and donors in India.
DeVoe-Dorsh-M. California, Berkeley, DSW, June 1983.

A study analyzed the relationship between aid-givers and one long-term  refugee group, the Tibetans of India. The study asserted that the key to  understanding refugees who receive aid lies not only in obtaining cultural  information about the group or theories about refugees in general, but also in analyzing their association with donors over the gift of aid.

Fieldwork for this study was conducted in various Tibetan refugee  settlements and in communities in India between 1980 and 1981. The author  used several anthropological methods to conduct the research, including  observing participants, talking with key informants, and formal and  informal interviewing of various Western donors and Tibetans who receive aid. The study suggested that there is an unusual parallelism between a small group of Western donors and Tibetan recipients who have developed a social bond through the gift of aid. The Tibetan refugees who engaged in the exchange of gifts with Western donors operated on the same principles and understanding of exchange that they exercised in old Tibet. In addition, an intermediary group, the Tibetan middle level, has arisen within the exiled community that acts in behalf of Tibetans while  satisfying donor’s expectations of returns for their help. Stressing the significance of reciprocity in refugee aid, the author concludes that the twenty-three year aid relationship between Tibetan refugees and Western donors is unusually successful because the Tibetan middle level has devised endearing ways of returning gifts.

National refugee policy, third parties, and intergroup relations between blacks and Indochinese refugees.
See-Letha-A. Bryn Mawr, Ph.D., May 1982.

This study points out that U.S. immigration policy decisions regarding  Asians, particularly current policies related to the Refugee Act of 1980, have failed to incorporate equitable criteria for admitting refugees to this country. Policies such as those related to the resettlement of Indochinese refugees have created intergroup conflicts between these refugee groups, blacks, and other disadvantaged Americans–conflicts that now are approaching crisis proportions. Indochina refugee refers not only to Vietnamese but also to Cambodians, Laotians, and Hmongs (Laotian tribal groups). The research included in-depth interviews with twenty Indochinese refugees and twenty white, black, Puerto Rican, and Chicano Americans.

Specifically, blacks harbor feelings of abandonment which were developed  as refugees gained greater advantages in the areas of housing, employment  opportunities, small business incentives, health care, and other benefits derived from social systems. Furthermore, blacks and other disadvantaged  Americans now view organized religion, voluntary organizations, and other  social agencies that provide goods and services as neglecting their needs in favor of those of refugees. The relocation of refugees to black communities is seen as a territorial invasion which threatens black institutions and undermines the fragile black economic base, and which could cancel decades of civil rights gains.


Refugee economic adaptation: theory, evidence, and implications for policy and practice.
Potocky-Tripodi-M. Journal of Social Service Research. 30(1): 63-91, 2003.

A theoretical model of predictors of refugee economic adaptation was tested  using data from a telephone survey of a random sample of Hmong, Somali, and Russian refugees resettled in Minneapolis-St. Paul. The study examined the relative influence of demographic characteristics, flight-related characteristics, host-related characteristics. residency characteristics, acculturation characteristics, and adaptation stresses upon refugees’ employment status and estimated earnings. Although previous studies have extensively examined demographic and residency characteristics, the relative influence of the other factors has not been comprehensively investigated. Multivariate analyses indicated that across the different refugee groups, the model explained 34-44% of the variance in employment status and 12-26% of the variance in estimated earnings. Consistent with  previous findings, demographic characteristics, in particular, education, gender, and household composition, had the largest effects on the indicators of economic adaptation. The remaining factors had relatively  small effects. The implications for refugee resettlement theory, policy, practice, and future research are discussed in light of these and previous findings.

U.S. domestic refugee resettlement policy: a secondary analysis of factors related to Southeast Asian refugee economic adjustment.
Robinson-B-C. Univ. of Denver, Ph.D. Dissertation, Mar. 1989.

After the U.S. involvement in Vietnam ended in 1975, the federal government saw resettlement of Southeast Asian refugees as a major task. Since 1979, Southeast Asian refugees arriving in the United States have had a greater number of economic adjustment problems. Secondary analysis and multiple regression were used in a study to examine the effects of federal and state government refugee employment programs, informal resources, and refugee characteristics. The study was based upon the U.S. government’s refugee policy, as defined by the Refugee Act of 1980. Study findings indicated that English language skills, informal help, training in English as a second language, past cash assistance, and possession of a driver’s license were the best predictors of economic adjustment. The overall study results indicated that refugees deferred employment while utilizing government program services. A policy that is guided by refugee perceived needs rather than by rapid initial employment appears to be a more feasible resettlement policy. Recommendations are made regarding the impact of study variables on U.S. refugee economic adjustment policy.

Alternative forms of care for unaccompanied refugee minors: a comparison of US and Australian experience.
Zulfacar-D. School of Social Work, Univ. of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.   International Social Work. 30(1): 61-75, Jan. 1987.

This article compares the experiences of Australia and the United States in developing arrangements for the care of unaccompanied minors from Indochina. Differences in goals, objectives and assumptions that underpin different care programs and different viewpoints are made explicit. The paper highlights the need for (a) clarity of goals and objectives, (b) empirical testing of assumptions, (c) adequate resourcing of programs, and (d) the development of guidelines for selecting alternative forms of care.

Irregular immigrants. Refugee policies of the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States of America: 1945-82.
Reznicek-Ivo. Pennsylvania, DSW, December 1985.

A study compared the refugee policies of West Germany and the United States within a historical perspective. The first half of the study focused on the emergence of refugee crises in 1945 and international efforts to solve them. The history of social policies in both countries is briefly given to shed light on efforts related to the resettlement of refugees. German and American refugee programs and their economic aspects were compared in the second half of the study. Findings indicated that national philosophies, humanitarian concerns, and political interests are the main determining principles of refugee policies in both countries; economic considerations appeared to play only a secondary role in such policies. Conclusions are drawn concerning the underlying reasons for refugee policy and the different programs of the two countries. The current policy of the United States is criticized, and the inequities in its refugee program are  highlighted. The dependence of refugees and the effects of illegal immigration are discussed as the most critical problems of refugee resettlement in the United States.

Refugee resettlement: toward a conceptual framework.
Moore-T-M. St. James Parish, Ogden, Utah. Social Thought. 8(2): 8-21, 1982.

The study on which this exploration is based described the adjustment process of Indochinese refugees residing in Utah and attempted to ascertain their social service needs. Data derived from the sponsors of the refugees identified several critical issues in the refugee resettlement experience. Most notable among these were the changing emotional states of the refugees during the resettlement period, cultural and lifestyle changes, and perceived sources of satisfaction and  dissatisfaction. In the development of the conceptual framework for the study, the continuum of engagement-disengagement-reengagement was explored as a potential model. The continuum used in the study was viewed as providing a theoretical framework within which the experience of refugees could be examined and understood. The growing literature on the resettlement of refugees, including the data of the reported study, point to several implications for refugee resettlement activity. Recommendations are offered for the development of more effective models of refugee resettlement and the delivery of social services to refugees.

Services and Interventions

Social work interventions in refugee camps: an ecosystems approach.
Drumm-R-D; Pittman-S-W; Perry-SAD: Journal of Social Service Research. 30(2): 67-92, 2003.

This article offers findings from qualitative needs assessment of Kosovar  refugees in south Albania at approximately one month following their  flight from Kosovo (May 1999). Common themes emerged from the interview data including trauma and the desire for emotional help, lack of information about loved ones, and the need for activities and self -determination in the camps. Framing these findings within an ecological model of human development, the authors propose a comprehensive approach to social work interventions in refugee camps. (This is one of five articles in this special issue on social work intervention in disasters and traumatic stress events.).

Gender, values and the work place: considerations for immigrant acculturation.
Itzhaky-H; Ribner-D-S. School of Social Work, Bar-Ilan Univ., Ramat Gan 52900, Israel. International Social Work. 42(2): 127-138, Apr. 1999.

A group of some 200 refugees, forced to leave a totalitarian, fundamentalist, Middle Eastern regime, took part in a transitional program in a European city before their eventual move to a Western country. Part of their activities during this 11-12-month period revolved around a community center created for this population, which offered, in part, various non-skilled occupational activities. Study findings indicated that women had significantly higher levels of job satisfaction and commitment to the work place than did men. Implications for refugee acculturation were also noted.

The effect of internal and external social support on refugee adaptation: psychological and economic adaptation of Iraqi refugees.
Takeda-J. Univ. of Tennessee, PhD, May 1996..

This study examined adaptation and social support of Iraqi refugees, one of the increasing refugee groups in the U.S. in the 1990’s. The study classified social support into two groups, internal (family, Arabic friends) and external (social workers, non-Arabic friends) and examined how each social support affects adaptation. Data were collected from 105 Iraqi adult male refugees resettled in two southeastern states. The findings revealed that Iraqi refugees were struggling to resettle psychologically and economically and were forced to utilize more external social support because of a lack of internal social support. The results of regression analyses indicated that internal social support was the better predictor for psychological adaptation while both social support were important for economic adaptation. The study also confirmed an interaction effect of internal and external social support on refugee adaptation. Implications for social work practice are discussed.

Southeast Asian refugee resettlements in Japan and the USA.
Hirayama-K-K; Hirayama-H; Kuroki-Y. School of Social Work, Univ. of Connecticut, 1798 Asylum Ave., West Hartford 06117-2698. International Social Work. 38(2): 165-76, Apr. 1995.

This study compares and contrasts two different approaches to resettlement used in Japan and the United States–an institutionalized approach versus an individualized one–for achieving the same United Nations goal in resettling Southeast Asian refugees in their societies. The study delineates Japanese and U.S. resettlement programs for Southeast Asian refugees, discusses emerging issues involved in each program, and identifies knowledge and skills recommended for social workers working with refugees. (Journal abstract, edited.)

Social work interventions to alleviate Cambodian refugee psychological distress.
Strober-S-B. Laurel Community Mental Health Clinic, Prince George’s Co. Health Dept., Laurel, MD. International Social Work. 37(1): 23-25, Jan. 1994.

The poll taken at random among 102 Cambodian refugees (May to August of  1989) served to determine the extent of environmental social support and refugee characteristics in the process of acculturation. Fifty percent of the variation is explained by education, the time spent in the country, and the impact of psychological decline. In addition, the data showed that there was a slight correlation between the observed social support and acculturation adjustment, and that there was a strong correlation between the latter and the lack of psychological decline. Furthermore, there was no significant correlation between the observed social support and psychological collapse. Result suggests that the observed family and community support does not promote acculturation, but rather a lower incidence of psychological decline. In addition, it suggests that traditional family and community support does not count when it comes to alleviating emotional problems. Social work, education, psychological collapse, conjugal support and, the amount of time spent in the country offer usable information in the application of social work to the task of reducing emotional problems of these people.

Training Southeast Asian refugees as social workers: a single subject evaluation.
Cheung-K–F-M; Canda-E-R. Graduate School of Social Work, Univ. of Houston, University Park, Houston,  TX 77204-4492 Social Development Issues. 14(2/3): 88-99, 1992.

The heuristic results of evaluating a single subject (A-B-A design) in a  refugee training project indicated that effective training includes not only culturally relevant classroom training but also mentoring and direct practice opportunities with refugee families and service providers. Value competency, knowledge competency, skill competency, and professional readiness were the major assessment areas. The overall competency level of the trainee to work independently with refugee families improved after training (from 40 percent at baseline to an average of 70 percent during training and 80 percent after training). Implications for the development of a refugee-focused training program to include a culturally-relevant curriculum, recruitment and retention efforts, faculty mentors, and an outcome-oriented evaluation process are addressed.

Being a helper is being a friend: helping perspectives of Southeast Asian refugee women as paraprofessional helpers.
Jansen-G-G. Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Ph.D. Dissertation, Jan. 1992.

This feminist interpretive study explores how four female paraprofessional Southeast Asian helpers perceived helping and themselves as helpers. Conducted in a refugee women’s program, ethnographic and biographical research methods were employed for over a period of two years. In total, 14 people were interviewed. Results were presented in narrative form.  Gender and biography were found to be central to the helping perspectives. Past cultural and familial factors created dispositions to become helpers, while the American culture and the context of the Refugee Women’s Program shaped helping perspectives and self-perceptions. The helper-client relationship was described as being a friend or family member, and therefore significantly different from a professional helper-client relationship. Counseling is perceived as teaching and advising and resembles feminist approaches to helping. This study points to the need to reconceptualize the professional helper-client relationship, and to  recognize gender as a major factor in a multicultural helping discourse.

Exploring the usefulness of “The Refugee Life-Stress Model” using a comparative configurational approach and Boolean analysis.
Chambon-A-S. Univ. of Chicago, Ph.D. Dissertation, June 1990.

An exploratory study performed a secondary analysis of data from a key informant survey conducted in a Midwest state concerning the mental health status of 77 help-seeking adult refugees from various ethnic backgrounds. A configurational analysis using Boolean algorithms was performed to interpret complex patterns in the data through the simultaneous analysis of case clusters and variable configurations. An empirical typology of emotional distress manifestations was constructed, followed by a conjunctural analysis of sets of conditions associated with membership in the emotional distress categories. The selection of variables (events and sociodemographics) was guided by a researcher-developed comprehensive explanatory model based on stress theories, the Refugee Life-Stress Model. The resulting typology identifies high-risk groups and reveals ethnic patterns modulated by gender/family status. Although not generalizable, the findings offer directions for research and service delivery. The methodology seems particularly promising for social work.

The presence or absence of the grandmother and the economic self -sufficiency of Soviet refugee families.
Golden-I. Adelphi Univ., DSW Dissertation, Dec. 1989.

By 1980, close to 100,000 Soviet Jewish refugees had been allowed to enter the United States. The pressure to select refugees and exclude others suggests that we need to be better informed about the predictors of economic self-sufficiency. Inasmuch as the Soviet refugee grandmother plays an important and facilitating role in the life of the family, a study postulated that the attainment of self-sufficiency by Soviet Jewish refugee families after nine years of residence in the United States would be significantly related to the presence of a grandmother during the initial year of resettlement. Study subjects were a proportional stratified sample (N = 90) of Soviet Jewish refugee husband-present and husband-absent families who lived with or without a grandmother in the first year of residence and who had arrived in the United States from 1977 to 1980. While the study results showed that the grandmother plays a supportive role in the lives of her adult children’s families, the grandmother’s presence was not statistically significant with respect to the family’s attainment of economic self-sufficiency. A major finding was that the husband’s presence was a significant factor in attainment of self  -sufficiency. Other statistically significant factors were respondent’s job status in the Soviet Union, respondent’s father’s job status in the Soviet Union, respondent’s schooling, respondent’s father’s schooling, and respondent’s final English level in the United States.

The relationships between the public and the voluntary sectors: the case of refugee resettlement services.
Law-C-K; Hasenfeld-Y. Dept. of Social Work, Univ. of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong. Administration in Social Work. 13(2): 15-28, 1989.

A study examines two competing theories that explain the relationship between the public and voluntary sectors–the private failure theory and the public goods theory. The study operationalizes these theories and tests them with data on state contracts made with the Office of Refugee Resettlement for the provision of social services under the Refugee Resettlement Program. The results of the analysis indicate that the private failure theory provides a better explanation for regional  variation in the market share of the private sector, whereas the public  goods theory provides a better explanation for variation across different types of services.

Systemic Issues

The role of social capital in immigrant and refugee economic adaptation.
Potocky-Tripodi-M. Journal of Social Service Research. 31(1): 59-91, 2004.

This study examined the effects of social capital upon the economic adaptation of 2,336 primarily Latin American and Asian immigrants and refugees residing in Miami-Fort Lauderdale and San Diego. A multivariate, cross-sectional survey design was used. It was found that social capital, as indicated by respondents’ social networks, workplace ethnic composition, informal assistance, and formal assistance received, had minimal impact upon economic adaptation, as indicated by employment status, public assistance utilization, and earnings, after controlling for  human capital, household composition, citizenship, English ability, and gender. The findings cast doubt upon the theory of social capital as a determinant of immigrant and refugee economic adaptation, while supporting the important role of human capital, citizenship, English ability, and gender.

Micro and macro determinants of refugee economic status.
Potocky-Tripodi-M. Journal of Social Service Research. 27(4): 33-60, 2001.

A theory-based model of factors influencing refugee economic status was tested using nationally representative samples of Soviet/East European (n = 4241), Southeast Asian (n = 4748), and Cuban (n = 4707) working-age refugees resettled in the United States. Census data on individuals and households were combined with data on metropolitan areas to assess the relative effects of demographic characteristics, residency characteristics, acculturation characteristics, and community  characteristics upon refugees’ employment status, public assistance utilization, and household income. The data were analyzed using regression analysis with hierarchical entry of blocks. Across the three groups, the model explained 26-31% of the variance in employment status, 32-39% of the variance in public assistance utilization, and 28-35% of the variance in household income. Demographic characteristics had the largest effect on economic status. Residency characteristics, acculturation characteristics, and community characteristics all had small and relatively equal effects. The most important individual determinants of economic status were education, gender, disability, and household composition. Implications for refugee resettlement theory, policy, and practice are discussed.

Maintaining wartime gains for women: lessons from El Salvador.
Cagan-B; Julia-M. Dept. of Social Work, Cleveland State Univ., Cleveland, OH 44115. International Social Work. 41(4): 405-415, Oct. 1998.

This is a comparative study of women in two rural communities in El Salvador. Both communities had formed in refugee camps during the 1980s, where women experienced unprecedented social equality with men. After repatriation, the necessity of integrating into the national economy and becoming self-sufficient undermined the radical egalitarianism of community life, and women’s participation declined. Despite these lessons, in one community women retained many advances, while in the other they reverted to their pre-war, subjugated status. This paper examines the reasons for theses differences and their implications for understanding how women’s development may be promoted and sustained.

Predictors of refugee economic status: a replication.
Potocky-M. Social Work Dept., School of Public Affairs and Services, Bay Vista Campus at North Miami, Florida International Univ., North Miami 33181. Journal of Social Service Research. 23(1): 41-70, 1997.

This study was conducted to determine the extent to which results or a  previously-developed regression model of economic status of Southeast Asian refugees in California would generalize to other refugee groups in another state. The replication study focused on Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, and Soviet/East uropean refugees in Dade County, Florida, using data from the 1990 census of Population and Housing. In general, the findings of the original study were confirmed. The regression model consisting of 14 predictors yielded 5% to 35% imporvement in prediction of employment status, approximately 1% improvement in prediction of public assistance utilization, and explained 32% to 41% of the variance in household income. The most important predictors of economic status were disability, having a household headed by a married couple, and education;  these differed from those of the original study. The implications are discussed in light of the new findings. (Journal abstract.)

Refugee children: how are they faring economically as adults?
Potocky-M. Social Work Dept., School of Public Affairs and Services, Bay Vista Campus at North Miami, Florida International Univ., North Miami 33181. Social Work. 41(4): 364-73, July 1996.

This study examined the economic well-being of refugees who arrived in the United States as children and are now adults. Five refugee groups (Southeast Asians, Soviets/East Europeans, Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans) were examined using data from the 1990 Census of Population and Housing. The results indicated that the economic status of childhood refugee arrivals differed by refugee group. Soviets/East Europeans and Cubans were faring well economically, Southeast Asians were faring moderately well, and Nicaraguans and Haitians were faring poorly. Underlying reasons for these differences are discussed, along with implications for policy and program development.

Integrating systemic and post-systemic approaches to social work practice with refugee families.
Kelley-P. School of Social Work, Univ. of Iowa, 308 North Hall, Iowa City 52242.   Families in Society. 75(9): 541-49, Nov. 1994.

The world-wide increase in refugees is the result of rapid changes from shifts in political allegiances to ethnic conflicts fracturing national identities. This study assesses the potential of integrating systemic and post-systemic theories for therapeutic social work practice with refugee families. These families face problems as they experience rapid  transitions. Crucial interventions are examined. (Journal abstract, edited.)

An examination of the resource development patterns of refugee mutual assistance associations in the San Francisco Bay area: using a cultural context contingency model.
Chao-M-A. Univ. of Pennsylvania, DSW, June 1994.

This exploratory study describes a nonrandom, purposive sample of refugee  Mutual Assistance Associations (MAAs) in the San Francisco Bay area and  identifies the variables associated with their funding resource patterns. The study is based on record reviews, written surveys, and personal interviews; longitudinal, comparing 1986 and 1990 organizational status; and also cross-sectional. Two major goals and resource outcomes are associated with certain organizational and cultural contingencies. One type of refugee MAA is a mutual aid/self-help organization that survives on minimal revenue totally from the community it serves. The organization pursues segregative goals for the preservation of its native culture, and its informal structure is modeled after traditional, native organizations  and cultural practices. The second type of refugee MAA is a government funded, hybrid human service/mutual aid organization. This middle class, bicultural leadership organization pursues integrative goals. Due to government funding, it is more complex organizationally.

Refugee resettlement: the role of public assistance.
Morris-T-M. Univ. of California at Berkeley, DSW Dissertation, May 1988.

A study of public assistance and refugee resettlement in Alameda County, CA  investigated the interaction between program responses to refugee resettlement and refugees’ resettlement problems. The study included a 10 percent (N = 514) random sample of case records of refugees applying for public assistance in Alameda County in 1984, 1985, and 1986. Each case was followed up in 1987 to assess public assistance status. Fifty-eight percent (N = 293) of the sample was found to be off public assistance in 1987. A model was developed using multivariate analysis. Eight variables were found to be predictive of refugees being on public assistance in 1987. The study hypothesis that refugees with Euro-American characteristics such as English language skills and appropriate employment skills are most likely to move out of the public assistance system quickly was confirmed, with two exceptions. Refugees still on public assistance in  1987 were most likely to be married women from Southeast Asia or the Middle East; not to have had home country work experience in marketing, administration, agriculture, or the military; to be living in a community of their own ethnicity; to have several dependents; to have applied to the program in 1985 or 1986; and to have been referred for employment services.

Depression and academic achievement among Indochinese refugee unaccompanied minors in ethnic and nonethnic placements.
Porte-Z; Torney-Purta-J. 2853 Ontario Rd., N.W., Washington, DC 20009.   American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 57(4): 536-47, Oct. 1987.

A study examined the effects of critical elements in the past and present life experiences of Indochinese refugee unaccompanied minors on their adaptation to the U.S. Of particular concern was whether life satisfaction and depression, the balance of American versus ethnic identity, and academic achievement could be predicted on the basis of placement mode (Caucasian or ethnic foster care, group home, or own family). Subjects were 82 Indochinese refugee adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 recruited from refugee programs for unaccompanied minors in the Washington, DC area. Subjects were administered a child’s version of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale and a 42-item survey developed by the researchers to collect demographic data and measure aspects of subjects’ Americanization, ethnicity, and support systems. The refugee adolescents who were resettled with ethnic foster families were significantly less depressed and had higher grade-point averages than those in foster care with Caucasian families or in group homes. The ongoing presence of an adult of similar ethnicity to the adolescent appeared to mitigate against the stress of adaptation to a new country.

Research Methodology

Refugee families’ experience of research participation.
Dyregrov-K; Dyregrov-A; Raundalen-M. Ctr. for Crisis Psychology, Fabrikkgt.5, 5059 Bergen, Norway; Journal of Traumatic Stress. 13(3): 413-426, July 2000.

Because refugees can experience crisis, bereavement, and traumatization, there has been a rapid increase of research carried out with refugees. This study investigated how refugee families respond to participation in research. A previous study explored how adults and children had communicated about the difficult question of repatriation after arriving in a new country. Did the in-depth interviews harm or benefit them? Are there any ethical risks in research on traumatized refugees? From an original sample of 74 Bosnian refugees (5-73 years), 30 family members from 9 families including 14 children aged 6 to 19, were re-interviewed. The refugees rated participation as positive. A few parents lacked information that could have enabled them to inform the children better before the interviews. The study shows that studies on traumatized/bereaved populations can have beneficial effects.

Seeing Cambodia: a new view of the research process.
Rozee-P-D; Van Boemel-G. Dept. of Psychology, California State Univ., Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach 90840. Reflections. 1(2): 19-25, Spring 1995.

This article describes the authors’ research with Cambodian refugee women suffering from psychogenic blindness as a result of war trauma. Also described is the learning process the authors used in the research on the clients’ functional blindness, their trauma, and their culture. It is a story fraught with joy and challenge. It is a story of seeing the world in new ways, through the eyes of women blinded by what they had seen.

Assessing the research on Southeast Asian refugees.
Haines-D-W. Office of Refugee Resettlement, Dept. of Health and Human Services,  Washington, DC. Social Thought. 10(3): 21-32, 1984.

Over the last nine years, nearly 700,000 Southeast Asian refugees have arrived in the United States. The resettlement of refugees from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam has generated a considerable amount of research. The characteristics of this research are delineated, and the future directions it might take are explored. Existing research on refugees in the United States is characterized by (1) voluminousness, (2) a broad scope, (3) complexity, and (4) underanalysis and lack of use. The need to refine the analysis of refugees’ adjustment to the United States is emphasized, as is the need to widen the perspective through which refugees are viewed. The continued development of ethnic communities and organizations composed of refugees merits further attention, particularly because such communities have formed without an existing ethnic base. Finally, research must inevitably turn toward considerations of intergenerational shifts in ethnic identity, the maintenance of traditional values and patterns of interaction, and the extent and manner of interaction with the wider American society.

May 18th, 2007 at 9:13 am

Posted in Research

Tagged with ,