Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Social Work

Degree Program

Social Work, PhD

Committee Chair

Sar, Bibhuti K.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Lawson, Thomas

Committee Member

Lawson, Thomas

Committee Member

Yankeelov, Pamela

Committee Member

Archeleta, Andrian

Committee Member

Sossou, Marie Antoinette


Refugees--Psychology; Refugees--Mental health; Displacement (Psychology)


In the fiscal year 2010 a total of 73,311 refugees arrived to the United States from over 70 countries. Along with their rich cultural practices, refugees bring loss, significant trauma and challenges related to migration. Their hope for the future is often overshadowed by the stresses inherent in adapting to new social expectations. Yet, after enduring a period of transition, most refugees become productive members of their community. This study analyzes prearrival characteristics, (demographic traits, self-efficacy, prearrival trauma, and living location), and post arrival perceptions, (conservation of resources and number of postarrival problems), in predicting emotional distress, (anxiety, depression), in refugees at the early stage of resettlement. With limited research on the relationship between refugee stress, self-efficacy, and conservation of resources this research adds to the empirical data. Increased knowledge about these factors improves insight into the refugee experience in the early days of migration and can enhance social work models for intervention at this stage of resettlement. An exploratory preexperimental, one-group design was used to identify the most significant factors predictive of anxiety and depression in refugees shortly after arrival to the US. The sample included 170 refugees from Burma, Iraq, and Nepal in the second and third month after arrival to Seattle, Washington in 2010. Measures used in this study include the Hopkins Symptom Checklist, (HSCL-25), Generalized Self-efficacy (GSE), Conservation of Resources (COR), Comprehensive Trauma Inventory (CTI), and the Post Migration Living Problems (PMLP). Three pairs of simultaneous binary logistic regressions identified the most predictive factors of anxiety and depression. Of these factors the most predictive of both anxiety and depression were self-efficacy and perceived resource loss. The factors that most strongly predicted anxiety alone were gender and number of postarrival problems. The factor that most strongly predicted depression alone was number of prearrival traumas. While most studies of refugees focus on the refugee history of trauma, this study explores a broad range of factors that support or impede migration adaptation. With this knowledge agencies working with refugees can focus resources where they can have the greatest impact. Some program enhancements could include: Psycho-social education for the losses associated with acculturation, group activities that enhance self-efficacy, recognition of the unique needs of men during this period and measures that reduce the impact of problems in the early months after resettlement.

Included in

Social Work Commons