Assessing individual, family, and community resilience to a natural disaster among Vietnamese refugees in North Carolina: an ethnographic study

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Huaibo Xin (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Robert Aronson

Abstract: Background: Previous studies have suggested that compared to the general population, refugees can be more susceptible to disaster mental disorders in the face of a public emergency occurring in their host country. Studies have also indicated that strengthening individual, family and community resilience have a significant impact on maintaining and improving the disaster victims' mental well-being. However, to date, few studies have investigated how refugees living in the U.S. respond to a public disaster happening in their host country in terms of applying the concept of resilience to individual, family, and community levels. In addition, little research has been done to identify the actual strategies for public health preparedness in improving refugee populations' resilience to a public crisis. Objectives: The objective of this dissertation study is to address these inadequacies and examine the individual, family, and community resilience to a potential natural disaster among adult Vietnamese refugees who have been resettled in NC and represent the majority of the Southeast Asian refugees in the U.S. Methods: This is a qualitative study using an ethnographic approach. A total of 20 Vietnamese refugees living in the city of Greensboro, NC, and aged 18 years old and above, who met both inclusion and exclusion criteria, were recruited and interviewed during the period of August 2010 to January 2011. Each face-to-face interview lasted for about an hour and a half to two hours by using a pre-tested semi-structured interview guide with an interpreter present. Both the top-down coding and the analysis of themes were used to analyze the data. Results: The findings were organized and written narratively by following the scheme of individual, family, and community resilience. The refugee participants' shared characteristics, in such as disaster experiences, personal traits, coping behaviors, physical and social resources, family belief systems, family communication process, family organizational patterns, community economic development, community institution and infrastructure, and community competence, across three levels of resilience to a natural disaster were qualitatively described. Factors that either support or impede the Vietnamese refugee participants' resilience to a natural disaster were identified. Conclusions: Using the lens of individual, family, and community resilience, what public health preparedness professionals need to know about the nature of resilience of the Vietnamese refugee population in order to be adequately prepared to reach this population and reduce their vulnerabilities to disaster mental disorders in the event of a natural disaster were discussed. A multilevel approach was suggested.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
Resilience, Natural Disaster, Vietnamese Refugees, North Carolina
Refugees $x Mental health $z Vietnam
Refugees $x Mental health $z North Carolina $z Greensboro
Natural disasters $x Psychological aspects

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