Session: Culturally Adapted Research Methods for South Asian Participants (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

223 Culturally Adapted Research Methods for South Asian Participants

Saturday, January 19, 2019: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM
Union Square 23/24 Tower 3, 4th Floor (Hilton San Francisco)
Cluster: Immigrants and Refugees (I&R)
Swathi Reddy, MSW, University of Texas at Austin, Rupal Parekh, MSW, MPH, University of Texas at Arlington, Abha Rai, MSW, University of Georgia and Erum Agha, MSW, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
According to the 2016 Census data, South Asians are the nation's fastest growing ethnic group with just over 4.3 million residing in the U.S. More than 75% of South Asians are foreign born and have immigrated primarily through employment-based or family-sponsored channels, whereas nearly 3% arrived as refugees. South Asian culture adheres to collectivist values, which have been preserved among immigrant communities in the U.S. However, because these upheld cultural values clash with America's preference for individualism, immigrants and their families often face unprecedented challenges as they navigate multiple cultural contexts and adapt to new cultural norms.

Exposure to acculturative pressures have significant implications for South Asian women who become especially vulnerable to issues such as domestic violence and mental health post migration. As such, domestic violence and the related mental health concerns have become pervasive issues for South Asians, however, little is known about these issues in South Asian communities, allowing such problems to be overlooked. Likewise, scholars have not adequately addressed these problems with South Asians revealing significant concerns for the welfare of the community. Since domestic violence and mental health hold different meanings across cultures, research must critically consider how South Asians perceive these problems to fully capture the extent of this issue.

The quality and applicability of social work research fundamentally relies on how well a study has been designed to reflect the culture and intersectional needs of its participants. Accordingly, it becomes imperative to move away from using “Western” models of research with South Asian immigrants. Because culture provides a broad framework for understanding the world and helps people make sense of their daily experiences, a researcher's ability to consider the study population's culture at every stage of research establishes overall rigor and relevance. Without this framework, eliciting information from South Asians as well as other ethnically diverse populations becomes a futile endeavor for social work students and scholars.

This roundtable session will begin a dialogue among social work scholars that will encourage exploration into adapting research methodologies for ensuring culturally competency with South Asian communities. By centering the core cultural values and belief systems that prevail in South Asian American communities, we will discuss strategies for collecting data on domestic violence and mental health issues using quantitative (survey design, standardized instruments, questionnaires) and qualitative methodologies (focus groups, narrative inquiry). Integral to conducting research with vulnerable immigrant populations, we will raise culturally-specific ethical considerations and discuss culturally apt techniques for minimizing the unique risks these groups might face. Upon completion of this roundtable discussion, participants will be able to: (a) explain the implications of applying western-based approaches to linguistically and culturally diverse populations; (b) discuss culturally competent techniques for data collection, analysis, and interpretation; and (c) describe the ethics of research with South Asian immigrant participants. Our goal is to stimulate an interactive discussion that will deliver insight into culturally competent research and practice as a means for expanding the current state of knowledge to ultimately better serve and meet the needs of South Asians.

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