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Multiculturalism and Social Work | San Francisco State University

The influence of pre-emigration and postemigration stressors on mental health: A study of Southeast Asian refugees

Author: Nicholson, Barbara L.
Author Background:
Date 3/1/97
Type Journal
Journal Title: Social-Work-Research
Volume/Pages Vol 21(1): 19-31
Subject Matter Asian Pacific Islander
Abstract Using path analysis, the study discussed in this article examined the direct and indirect effects of a series of pre-emigration and postemigration factors on mental health status among 447 Southeast Asian refugees. Bicultural interviewers administered a cross-sectional survey to a stratified sample of community residents divided evenly by ethnicity (Cambodian, Vietnamese, Laotian, and Hmong), gender, and employment status (working or nonworking). Findings indicate that 40% of Ss suffered from depression, 35% from anxiety, and 14% from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One pre-emigration factor, experienced trauma, and two postemigration factors, degree of current stress and perceived health, directly affected all mental health outcomes. Current stress, which measured the degree of stress created by acculturative tasks such as learning a new language, seeking employment, rebuilding social supports, and redefining roles, was the strongest overall predictor of mental health. Social workers should design and implement programs that will decrease current stressors and rebuild indigenous social supports to enhance acculturation and reduce mental health problems. ((c) 1999 APA/PsycINFO, all rights reserved)