Thesis

Stress and Coping among Iraqi Refugee Men

Statement of Problem:
 
 The number of Iraqis fleeing for survival to various countries are increasing. The United States (U.S.) is one of the primary countries to accept and resettle Iraqi refugees. These refugees are a vulnerable population because of stress related to past trauma, seeking political asylum, and starting over. The intensity and accumulation of these stresses may lead to psychological and physical problems. Currently, there is a limited amount of research, especially qualitative studies, exploring recently immigrated refugees’ perception of stress, unique needs, and coping strategies. The purpose of this study was to address the literature gap and identify the perceived stressors and coping skills used by Iraqi refugees. Due to Iraqi men and women having different stressors and strategies for coping, this study focused on the men’s perspective as they are typically considered the main provider and decision maker within the family.
 
 Sources of Data:
 
 Data was collected from 10 Iraqi refugee men residing in Southern California. Inclusion criteria were residing in Southern California, age 18 to 60, lived in the U.S less than 7 years, and the ability to speak Arabic. Participants were recruited from Alliance for African Assistance’s (AAA) English as Second Language class, flyers placed in resettlement programs, and referrals from other participants. Interviews were conducted in Arabic and English in a natural setting, such as coffee shops, houses, and AAA’s conference and office rooms. Semi-structured interview questions were used to illicit the description of experiences and perceptions about relocating. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed to uncover themes and subthemes.
 
 Conclusions Reached:
 
 Common stressors and coping skills were identified. Major themes of the study included: stepping into the new world, getting established, establishing and sustaining a future, and dealing with stress. The themes were similar to other studies and followed Yakushko’s (2010) theoretical model of stress and coping strategies. New findings included loss of plans upon arrival in the U.S., difficulties with name change, stressors related to finding a language class, responsibility to care for family members with medical conditions, and discrimination within the local Arabic community. A new coping strategy not mentioned in Yakushko’s (2010) study was the use of focusing on positives. The results of this study provide nurse practitioners with an understanding of stressors endured by Iraqi refugees so proper assessments, interventions, and referrals can be initiated. By intervening early, health consequences related to stress can be prevented or reversed.

Statement of Problem: The number of Iraqis fleeing for survival to various countries are increasing. The United States (U.S.) is one of the primary countries to accept and resettle Iraqi refugees. These refugees are a vulnerable population because of stress related to past trauma, seeking political asylum, and starting over. The intensity and accumulation of these stresses may lead to psychological and physical problems. Currently, there is a limited amount of research, especially qualitative studies, exploring recently immigrated refugees’ perception of stress, unique needs, and coping strategies. The purpose of this study was to address the literature gap and identify the perceived stressors and coping skills used by Iraqi refugees. Due to Iraqi men and women having different stressors and strategies for coping, this study focused on the men’s perspective as they are typically considered the main provider and decision maker within the family. Sources of Data: Data was collected from 10 Iraqi refugee men residing in Southern California. Inclusion criteria were residing in Southern California, age 18 to 60, lived in the U.S less than 7 years, and the ability to speak Arabic. Participants were recruited from Alliance for African Assistance’s (AAA) English as Second Language class, flyers placed in resettlement programs, and referrals from other participants. Interviews were conducted in Arabic and English in a natural setting, such as coffee shops, houses, and AAA’s conference and office rooms. Semi-structured interview questions were used to illicit the description of experiences and perceptions about relocating. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed to uncover themes and subthemes. Conclusions Reached: Common stressors and coping skills were identified. Major themes of the study included: stepping into the new world, getting established, establishing and sustaining a future, and dealing with stress. The themes were similar to other studies and followed Yakushko’s (2010) theoretical model of stress and coping strategies. New findings included loss of plans upon arrival in the U.S., difficulties with name change, stressors related to finding a language class, responsibility to care for family members with medical conditions, and discrimination within the local Arabic community. A new coping strategy not mentioned in Yakushko’s (2010) study was the use of focusing on positives. The results of this study provide nurse practitioners with an understanding of stressors endured by Iraqi refugees so proper assessments, interventions, and referrals can be initiated. By intervening early, health consequences related to stress can be prevented or reversed.

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