Resilience : the experience of immigrant and refugee women

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Toth, Judith Sandra
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The purpose of this descriptive study was to explore resilience in the lives of immigrant and refugee women who have come to Canada in the last 5 years. The study focuses on their strengths, the factors that have affected their ability to cope with adversity and maintain their health, and the changes they feel are needed to create an environment that is conducive to their health. The theoretical perspectives underlying the relationship between health promotion and resilience, within a feminist research paradigm, provide the conceptual framework for this study. The qualitative method used was women-centred interviewing of a purposive sample of 6 immigrant and refugee women living in Winnipeg. Content analysis of the verbatim transcripts revealed the following themes: language barriers, discrimination, social isolation, optimism, adaptability, perseverance, social support and familiarity, reaching out to newcomers, and recognition of existing skills and knowledge. Social isolation was related to language barriers, cultural differences, racism, lack of leisure time, and the harsh winter climate. Social support was identified as a significant factor in the development of their personal strengths, which included optimism, adaptability and perseverance. Participants expressed a need for more opportunities and space for social contact, increased community outreach and acknowledgement of their education and employment skills. Implications for nursing education and practice, policy development and research are discussed. The study's recommendations incorporate the participants' suggested changes.