241912 Social Capital and Refugee Resettlement in East Tennessee

Monday, October 31, 2011: 2:48 PM

Fletcher Njororai, PhD , Department of Public Health, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Knoxville, TN
Denise Bates, PhD, RRT, CHES , Public Health, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to highlight the value of social capital in refugee resettlement in relation to refugee health and well-being in the US. Refugee experiences are characterized by traumatic events and trajectories such as war, genocide, persecution, rape, imprisonment, violence and deaths, , family separation and frequent displacements, long periods in camps, and resettlements. In their new home, refugees continually experience social isolation and exclusion, conflicts with cultural expectations and mainstream institutions, role changes, cultural loses, and identity crises. Compounded by systemic dependence, structural barriers, and socially constructed expectations, systems and procedures are created which may discourage refugees from taking control of their lives. Data: Qualitative data used in this study is from the Burundi refugees (n=39) recently resettled in a smaller town in East Tennessee. Methods used: The data was collected through focus group discussions and community forum conducted November 2008-July 2009. The data was analyzed using the qualitative software, Atlasti 6.0. Major findings: Preoccupation with family reunification may hinder the process of economic and social integration and does affect the mental health of refugees through chronic stress and depression. Remaining a part of close or extended- familial networks is important in many ways including economic stability, care-giving for the sick, information sharing, employment connections, and a sense of belonging and cultural identity. Recommendations: Program planners, service providers, and policy makers must understand and consider relational context and parameters of social capital in which refugees reconstruct their lives in resettlement and integration in mainstream society.

Learning Areas:
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Public health or related education
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1). Discuss the social capital factors important to refugee resettlement and their health and well-being. 2). Explain the effects of social capital on the resettlement process of Burundian refugees in this East Tennessee community. 3). List the recommendations related to social capital for effective refugee resettlement and healthy communities.

Keywords: Refugees, Well-Being

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I currently work on health disparities among Burundian refugees in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.