Session: Identifying Strategies to Promote Trust and Overcome Barriers for Successful Research with Immigrant and Refugee Communities (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

176 Identifying Strategies to Promote Trust and Overcome Barriers for Successful Research with Immigrant and Refugee Communities

Friday, January 14, 2022: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Marquis BR Salon 8, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
Cluster: Immigrants and Refugees
Melody Huslage, MSW, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Abha Rai, PhD, Loyola University Chicago, Mary Lehman Held, PhD, University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Mitra Naseh, PhD, Portland State University
Immigrants constitute 15% of the U.S. population and bring vast strengths to our nation. Yet, the current sociopolitical context of exclusionary immigration policies has resulted in forced family separations, travel bans, and deportations, with immigrants and refugees living with unprecedented fear and distress that elevate risk of mental health and psychosocial concerns. These stressors are compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately affects many immigrant communities.

Despite an increased need for formal, organization-based, supports in this stressful environment, providers face substantial challenges to serving these vulnerable communities. In particular, providers lack sufficient and current data to inform evidence-based strategies aimed at addressing access barriers and service needs. A key factor associated with this lack of data entails barriers to recruitment and data collection by immigration researchers.

Therefore, drawing from our research and practice experience in engaging with immigrants, the goal of this roundtable is to: (1) bring awareness to ways in which immigrant and refugee communities have been affected by recent sociopolitical events; (2) share firsthand experiences regarding barriers encountered while conducting research with these communities; and (3) present strategies to facilitate meaningful research that enables practitioners to deliver evidence-based interventions that consider unique vulnerabilities and resilience of immigrant and refugee clients. Presenter 1 will review the current sociopolitical context from a U.S. perspective, examining how policy changes, anti-immigrant sentiment, and COVID-19 may have impacted immigrant and refugee communities living in the U.S. Presenter 2 will share her experiences of engaging in immigrant research in a new destination state in which providers can be fearful of researchers engaging with their clients, and will discuss experiences of building trust first with providers through multiple volunteering activities before exploring research partnerships. Presenter 3 will discuss her experience regarding lack of trust among newly resettled refugees in the U.S. and will talk about her past experience as a case worker with the United Nations building trust and partnering with community leaders. Presenter 4 will share ways in which community-led research projects can be successfully designed, as well as her experiences in engaging with immigrants utilizing culturally responsive measures, tools, and approaches.

Together, presenters will discuss salient barriers to research with immigrant and refugee communities, such as lack of trust, power differentials, limited psychometrically reliable and valid assessment tools, varying definitions of social issues, access to hidden populations and fear of immigration enforcement, and lack of funding prioritizing immigrant communities. Additionally, presenters will highlight strategies found effective to building community partnerships and discuss the partner role in all aspects of research; best practices in language translation; protection of information; cultural humility; provision of legal resources and information; culturally specific research approaches; giving back intentionally to the communities; and advocacy.

At the conclusion of the presentation, audience members will be invited to ask questions and share their own experiences working with immigrant and refugee communities. Through this roundtable, scholars and practitioners conducting research with immigrant and refugee populations will be able to take away strategies for engaged collaboration while utilizing enhanced safeguards.

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