Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Humanities, PhD

Committee Chair

Peteet, Julie

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Crespo, Fabian

Committee Member

Crespo, Fabian

Committee Member

Marshall, Gül

Committee Member

Bowman, Brad

Author's Keywords

Islamic medicine; biomedicine; Syrian refugees in US; health traditions; medical pluralism


This research builds upon the framework of the Health Traditions Model (HTM) as described in 1994 by Rachel Spector, a scholar and practitioner of a cultural care model of health among multicultural populations. I integrate this model into a study of Syrian refugees’ resettlement experience in Louisville, Kentucky. Syrian refugees’ voices and narratives of their corresponding Arab-Islamic and folk approaches to health, illness, and healing are the launch site for this project. I argue that approaching the resettlement experience from the refugees’ own cultural and Arab-Islamic perspectives toward health, illness, and healing aids in achieving a pluralistic health care system and also has the capacity to start a new trend in studying refugees’ resettlement experiences. This trend would distance itself from the standard approaches to refugees encompassing mostly negative mental health outcomes and psychic disorders such as depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and suicide. An abductive methodology is adopted in this study which came up with new findings. Data analysis and interpretation revealed fundamental concepts related to various aspects: the existence of Arab/Islamic and folk health beliefs and practices in the daily lives of Syrian refugees, the positive impact of these practices and beliefs on their lives post-resettlement, and the problems these refugees encounter in the US biomedical health care system as they try to retain their health beliefs and practices. This study allowed Syrian refugees the opportunity to voice their personal experiences of dealing with health and illness upon resettlement in the US, and it revealed health-related issues that inspire and illuminate a process that can guide health care delivery and refugee resettlement research.