Since 1975, over 3 million refugees have arrived in the United States. Refugees are representing diverse cultural backgrounds and facing new challenges in the United States. Accordingly, refugee service centers or agencies provide various services to refugees such as cultural orientation and basic needs. Thus service providers play a key role in the settlement process. Previous studies suggest that cultural competence of service providers be related to service provision to refugees because refugees may have intra-conflicts between their native culture and host culture. In this study, we focused on examining mediating roles of cultural competence between other personal factors (i.e., familiarity with community resources and work experience) and service provision.
To achieve our research objective, the current study utilized a non-experimental, cross-sectional design. An online survey was conducted using Qualtrics, a web-based survey tool, to collect information from service providers who work for refugees in the United States. A sample of 115 refugee service providers were collected and used for data analysis. Demographics (gender, race/ethnicity, age, education level, and job titles), cultural competence (cultural competence behavior and cultural awareness/sensitivity), other personal factors (familiarity with community resources and work experience), and service provision and referral (23 kinds) were measured Based on United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Resettlement Handbook of the United States of America (2014), the 23 kinds of service provision and referral are categorized into six domains: orientation, basic needs, assistance to access benefits, employment, health, and other services (e.g., transportation, translation, legal support). Preacher and Hayes (2008)’ PROCESS SPSS Macro Mediation analysis was used to test mediation effects of cultural competence.
The mediation analyses show that cultural competence behavior positively mediated the effects of familiarity with community resources on service provision (basic needs and assistance to access benefits), and service referral (orientation, basic needs, assistance to access benefits, health and other services). In addition, cultural competence behavior positively mediated the effects of work experience on both service provision (orientation, basic needs, assistance to access benefits, and other services) and referral (orientation, basic needs, assistance to access benefits, employment, and other services). However, no significant mediation effects of cultural awareness/sensitivity on both service provision and referral were found.
Conclusions and Implications
Our findings highlighted the importance of cultural competence behavior of service providers who work with refugees. Service providers with a higher degree of culturally competent behavior provided and referred more services than those with a lower degree. Therefore, it can be useful to promote service providers’ cultural competence behaviors (e.g., trainings for cultural assessment and needs, learning about cultural heritage, recognizing barriers to services because of different cultural backgrounds, etc.). Implications for policy will be discussed.