Online Program

Defining the empowerment process with Asian survivors of domestic violence: Lessons learned in navigating cultural competency in research and methods

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 12:50 p.m. - 1:10 p.m.

Jocelyn Chu, ScD, MPH, JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc, Boston, MA
Sujata Ghosh, MSW, MSc, Community Based Services, Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence, Boston, MA
Purnima Sahgal, Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence, Boston, MA
Dawn Sauma, MSW, LICSW, Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence, Boston, MA
Carolyn Rubin, EdD, MA, Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), Boston, MA
Background: Domestic violence (DV) is a pervasive but often silent problem among the Asian community in the United States. A growing body of evidence points to the high prevalence of the issue and its concomitant effects on health. The Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence (ATASK) serves Asian survivors of DV in the New England region with services provided in over ten Asian languages and dialects. While the general assumption is that engaging in DV services will produce empowered clients, not understanding what empowerment means within different cultures and contexts may cause programs to be disempowering. Purpose: This study aimed to 1) describe how clients and service providers at ATASK define “empowerment”, and 2) investigate perceived barriers and facilitators of the empowerment process with the purpose of informing client services and outcomes. Methods: Using a community based participatory research approach (CBPR), academic partners and ATASK staff and a former client formed a research team to conduct three focus groups with provider staff, Chinese clients, and Hindi clients. Results: Empowerment was described as having a sense of self-sufficiency and stability and was achieved as an ongoing process as well as an end goal. Some differences in the way empowerment was defined between the different language groups were noted. As immigrant women, societal and cultural norms presented as barriers to empowerment as did structural factors like the legal system and immigration policies. Participants described that “giving back” or the act of serving another survivor facilitated a sense of empowerment. Discussion: Cultural competency in research poses many challenges. The concept of “empowerment” did not translate easily into the Chinese and Hindi languages, bringing into question the dilemma of using Western concepts to study the experiences of immigrant populations. Implications for using findings to inform service delivery to Asian immigrant populations will be discussed.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Assess the challenges of conducting participatory research with immigrant populations in a manner that is both culturally and methodologically competent.

Keyword(s): Community Research, Immigrant Domestic Violence

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the co-principal investigator on this study and have extensive experience in community engagement and participatory research. My work focuses on utilizing a participatory research and evaluation approach to empower immigrant communities in advocating for their health needs and concerns.
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.