Refugee Experiences and Southeast Asian Women's Mental Health


Davis, Ruth E., Michael G. Kennedy, and Wendy Austin. 2000. "Refugee Experiences and Southeast Asian Women’s Mental Health." Western Journal of Nursing Research 22 (2): 144-68.

Authors: Ruth E. Davis, Michael G. Kennedy, Wendy Austin


The wars in Southeast Asia displaced thousands of families from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. The upheavals led to a number of waves of immigration to the United States. Current research supports hypotheses of post-traumatic stress disorder diagnoses in refugees from the wars in Vietnam but omits pertinent cultural factors. This phenomenological study of 19 women from Southeast Asia examines the meanings of their refugee experiences. Open-ended interviews with these women reveal themes of survival, despair, and isolation. Health care providers may notice cultural bereavement as opposed to post-traumatic stress disorder, reflecting a psychological resilience not extensively explored previously. Developing empathetic interactions and including important ethnic identity factors in caring for refugee women appear essential in providing appropriate health care.

Keywords: female refugees, mental health, posttraumatic stress disorder

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Ethnicity, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam

Year: 2000


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