Conducting Research within a Somali Refugee Community

Tuesday, 10 November 2015: 10:40 AM

Jane M. Dyer, PhD, MBA, MS, BS, CNM
College of Nursing, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

Increasing numbers of Somali refugees are resettled in the U.S., particularly the intermountain west.  As a result, nurse researchers have unique opportunities to engage in research within this diverse population.  Recruitment issues for most refugee communities include difficulty in locating participants, challenges to developing relationships within the community, and reaching possible participants.  These issues are especially difficult when initiating research within the Somali community, due to major differences in language, culture and trust from most researchers.  These differences also contribute to methodological issues, ranging from selection of research site to gathering accurate data.  Gaining actual informed consent is also challenging, as research may be a new concept, difficulty with translation due to multiple languages spoken by people from Somalia, and fear of disclosure.  However, these challenges can be overcome by researchers with careful planning, further study of the community, becoming involved in the community and a realistic approach to a long term commitment to involving the community in the research process.  Learning about the history of Somalia, the various groups that comprise the people of Somalia, Somalia’s culture and religious practices, and Somali health practices is required to conduct meaningful research in this community.  Conducting research in this community offers researchers the opportunity to learn about racial diversity, master lessons in patience and flexibility, understand a unique culture, build trust, and become active in a new community.