Thursday, July 22, 2004
9:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Thursday, July 22, 2004
2:30 PM - 3:00 PM
This presentation is part of : Posters I
Life Experiences of Cambodian-American Refugee Women: Segmented Life Stories
Jane A. McCool, PhD, RN, Nursing, Nursing, Salve Regina University, Newport, RI, USA

Of the thirty-three million international refugees and displaced persons, approximately eighty percent are mothers with children (Martin, 1994). There is a paucity of research that explores refugee experiences with organized violence and healing following such events. Available research typically addresses acts of domination and oppression rather than life stories of individuals. Individual health and healing responses are ordinarily examined through the lens of psychotraumatology. A socialized view proposes that exposure to trauma is not a private experience and that the refugee experience of organized violence, the flight to safety, and life in a new land weaves a complex web of traumatization, loss, and healing. This paradigmatic shift considers the notions of human loss and bereavement rather than mental illness as fundamental to human behavior in this situation. The aim of this study was to explore the life stories of three female Cambodian–American refugees in order to understand what their lives had been like since their arrival in the United States, how and if they had experienced personal healing, and their thoughts of how nurses and other health care providers could be part of the healing process. The research design included a form of narrative analysis, a segmented version of the Life Story Interview (Atkinson, 1998). This method was utilized in order to draw attention to the contextualized nature and experience of healing within the lives of these women since their arrival in the United States through in-depth, semi-structured interviews. All of the narratives revealed a sense of disruption in psychological and social-interpersonal states and adaptation to culture. Responses to the suggestion of enhancing nursing and health care interventions underscored the importance of transcultural understanding and communication, tolerance for differences in world views, recognition of survival and growth in the face of adversity, and finally the power of human connection.

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Back to 15th International Nursing Research Congress
Sigma Theta Tau International
July 22-24, 2004