Methods: To obtain a national sample (N=372) of self-identified Arab Americans for this cross-sectional study, a convenient sampling strategy was used. Participants, who were recruited from more than 22 not-for-profit Arab organizations, completed an online self-administered (Qualtrics) survey. In addition to demographic items, the self-report survey included measures of attitudes, which were based upon two validated measures: Vancouver Index of Acculturation-Modified Arab Version (VIA-A; Amer, 2005), and Scale of Attitudes Toward Disabled Persons (SADP; Antonak & Livneh, 1989). Data were analyzed using both bivariate and multivariate techniques including Pearson’s r correlation, t-test, one-way ANOVA, and Hierarchical regression analysis.
Results: Findings revealed that ethnic identity with the US host culture could be important components in the acculturation process for Arab Americans. The stigma of disability from the country of origin can negatively influence attitudes of Arab Americans towards persons with disability. The results provide evidence to support strong relationships between some sociodemographic characteristics such as people who identify strongly with mainstream American culture were significantly correlated with favorable attitudes toward persons with disabilities. Overall, the hierarchical regression model shows more favorable overall attitudes of Arab Americans toward persons with developmental disabilities are accounted by length of stay in US (β = -.30; t = -5.856, p < .05), mainstream identification with American culture (β = -.25; t = -4.772, p < .05).
Implications: The results highlighted the importance of understanding attitudes of immigrants and refugees toward persons with disabilities, particularly within the Arab American community. Further research is needed to examine how the acculturation process can influence attitudes towards disabilities, and where policy and practice can intervene to improve outcomes. Given the empirical results of the study, Social work practitioners must be culturally sensitive to the distinct aspects of Arab culture and their acculturation process, in order to enhance their skills in improving the delivery of services for the growing population of Arab Americans. Results also highlighted the need to raise awareness in the struggles of immigrants and refugees, and how they can impact attitudes toward persons with disabilities in Arab American communities.