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Title: Resilience and health Salvadoran refugee women in Manitoba
Authors: Bowen, Sarah J.
Issue Date: 1-Jun-1999
Abstract: This qualitative study describes, from the perspective of women themselves, the health of Salvadoran refugee women living in Manitoba, their understanding of causes of health and illness, and the strategies they use to maintain health and cope with health problems. Participants fled war-related violence in El Salvador and arrived in Canada during the period 1982-1992. The study was designed in collaboration with Salvadoran women. Methods included qualitative interviews with 12 women, two focus groups (for a total of 18 participants) and participant observation. The research process included a feedback stage, which enabled participants both to review excerpts from their own stories and to comment on the interpretation of themes and conclusions. Differences in social class were associated with systematic variation in women's life experiences and their expectations of, and satisfaction with, services and life in Canada. However, the study identified characteristics and coping strategies which transcended social class, and focused on resilience and pragmatism. Study participants described an understanding of the determinants of health and illness that was multi-causal and multidimensional, and which emphasized the social roots of health and illness. Their perspective suggests major limitations to the Determinants of Health model emphasized in North America. While many participants reported war-related trauma, on-going distress related to adaptation to life in Canada, and continuing community polarization and mistrust were described as having a greater effect on current health. The findings challenge the emphasis on individual diagnoses of psychological disorder, suggesting that efforts should be addressed to the social and behavioral effects of violence, betrayal and uprooting.
Appears in Collection(s):FGS - Electronic Theses & Dissertations (Public)

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