The promotion of family wellness for refugee families in cultural transition: a phenomenographic study

Kerstin Samarasinghe, Barbro Arvidsson, Agneta Abrahamsson, Bengt Fridlund

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    Objective: To illustrate how nurses can promote family wellness and facilitate acculturation for involuntary migrant families as conceptualized by bilingual interpreters and cultural mediators with own past refugee experience.  Due to the nature of involuntary migration and accompanying acculturation, refugee families face a complex transition, exposing them to vulnerability in cohesion and family function. Involuntary migrant health needs are largely managed within the Primary Health Care sector where Primary Health Care Nurses (PHCN) play an important role. Additionally, bilingual interpreters and cultural mediators with personal experience of being refugees and subsequent acculturation play a critical role in bridging the language and cultural gap between migrant families and PHCNs.

    Methods: The study is descriptive and explorative in design with a phenomenographic approach. Data was collected in Southern Sweden utilizing in-depth interviews with ten bilingual interpreters and cultural mediators originating from the Balkans, Kurdistan, Eritrea and Somalia. A contextual analysis with reference to phenomenography was used in interpreting the data material.

    Results: Three separate themes illustrated the meaning of family wellness: a sense of belonging to the new homeland, the maintenance of self-esteem and stable family interrelationships. The analysis demonstrated that the way ex-refugee bilingual interpreters and cultural mediators perceived of how to promote family wellness, fell into three qualitative different conceptions: (1) Promotion of family wellness is the responsibility of the family itself, manifested in its attitude in wanting to adjust to change, (2) Promotion of family wellness is the consideration of those outside the family and is marked by understanding and respectful attitudes, (3) Promotion of family wellness is a societal responsibility to which successful integration is a prerequisite.

    Conclusions: The promotion of health of involuntary migrant families in cultural transition is complex due to families, other members of the society and society at large all contributing to family wellness in the process of acculturation. For nurses to facilitate a healthy transition for involuntary migrant families, a holistic approach working with the entire family in a psychosocial way and cooperating with other health care professionals, community authorities and ethnic organizations maybe a future direction in encounters with involuntary migrant families with health problems. Adopting a family system approach will enable nurses to provide culturally and transition-competent quality care by enabling stabilizing interfamily relationships through supportive conversations about changes and its subsequent reactions and possible coping of the family as a unit. Further research in order to enhance health promotion would preferable take on a participatory approach.

    Sidor (från-till)92-104
    Antal sidor12
    TidskriftJournal of Nursing Education and Practice
    StatusPublicerad - 2012

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