Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

19 Community Based Participatory Research In Refugee and Immigrant Communities

Thursday, January 12, 2012: 3:30 PM-5:15 PM
Constitution E (Grand Hyatt Washington)
Cluster: Gender and Ethnicity
Symposium Organizer:
Elizabeth Lightfoot, PhD, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
This symposium presents three papers that use a Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) approach to examine social and health issues of immigrant and refugee communities. CBPR is a research approach that has grown out of the realization that university-based researchers studying pernicious societal problems might not be asking the right research questions, using the right methods, or analyzing and interpreting data correctly. Social work interventions that have relied on findings from this research may have been ineffective partially because of a lack of knowledge on how individuals make decisions or on how communities function. Immigrants and refugees are among the populations that experience greatest disparities in health and social services and have unique needs that are particularly amenable to the CBPR approach to research which involves long-term engagement and power-sharing with community members and organizations.

All three CBPR projects presented in this symposium are set in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Region. Minnesota, a traditionally homogeneous state, is now one of the top states for refugee settlement in the United States, and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Area is now a hub for Southeast Asian and East Africa immigrants and refugees. The first paper uses an asset-based community development approach to discover cultural health assets of Somali and Oromo communities. In this project, community asset mappers conducted 70 interviews with community members residing in a high-density refugee community, and conducted two focus groups. The cultural health assets revealed in this study, including religious beliefs and practices, prominence of oral traditions, the use of proverbs and religious tolerance, are being used as the basis for the development of culturally relevant interventions. The second paper describes a randomized controlled trial to assess the acceptability and effectiveness of a culturally relevant video-based colorectal cancer screening intervention in comparison with typical written interventions for Vietnamese Americans. This study found that both groups increased in knowledge and attitudes towards cancer screening, and that there was a 20% increase in obtaining a cancer screening. These findings suggest that the intervention type might be less important than whether the intervention is culturally and linguistically appropriate. The final paper uses a mixed-method approach based on social capital and socio-ecological frameworks to explore the housing situation in Hmong, Karen, Liberian, Oromo and Somali refugee communities for use in designing a policy intervention and advocacy tool for refugee families. This study found that cultural barriers, failure of timely service provision, and low-help seeking were risk factors for resettlement and housing stability. Secondary migration was strongly associated with low social capital and tended to lead families to aggravated housing insecurity.

This symposium provides a unique opportunity to demonstrate the wide variety of research methods that can used within the CBPR approach as well as to highlight the importance of strong, ongoing community research partnerships, which is a cornerstone of the CBPR approach. Further, these papers demonstrate how a vital factor in CBPR projects is the use of research findings for developing culturally appropriate interventions, which is of key importance for refugees and immigrants.

* noted as presenting author
Cultural Health Asset Mapping to Reduce Health Disparities: A Community Based Participatory Research Project In the East African Refugee Community
Elizabeth Lightfoot, PhD, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities; Terry Y. Lum, PhD, The University of Hong Kong; Amano Dube, MA, Brian Coyle Center; Jennifer Blevins, MSW, Brian Coyle Center
Motivating Underserved Vietnamese Americans to Obtain Colorectal Cancer Screening: A Culturally Tailored Video-Based Intervention Using a Community-Based Participatory Research Approach
Hee Yun Lee, PhD, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities; Marie Minh-Hien Tran, Vietnamese Social Services of Minnesota; Mark Yeazel, MD, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
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