Abstract: Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) Following Racial Discrimination Trauma Among Urban Indigenous Young Adults (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) Following Racial Discrimination Trauma Among Urban Indigenous Young Adults

Friday, January 13, 2023
Ahwatukee A, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Wan-Jung (Wendy) Hsieh, MSW, LICSW, Doctoral Student, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Ciwang Teyra, PhD, Assistant Professor, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
Background: Urban indigenous people, defines as indigenous people who reside in urban areas, account for nearly half of the total indigenous population in Taiwan. Urban indigenous young adults experience frequent racial discrimination in their interpersonal interactions. While a wealth of research has examined the association between discriminatory experiences and negative health and behavioral outcomes (e.g., suicidal ideations, depression, substance abuse, PTSD, etc.) in the past decade, research rarely examined their racial trauma with growth outcomes. Posttraumatic growth (PTG), referring to the phenomenon of positive transformations following adversity, is suggested by previous research. However, it has rarely been examined with the focus of racial trauma among the urban indigenous population in the existing literature.

Methods: Individual qualitative interviews with 12 urban indigenous young adults in Taiwan were conducted between the end of 2020 to the beginning of 2021. Purposive and snowballing sampling strategies were utilized for data collection. The sample: 1) consists of four men and eight women, who identify themselves as urban indigenous individuals, 2) consists of individuals who experience racial discrimination and/or microaggression, and 3) ranges from 22 to 33 in age. Each interview lasts 90 minutes intending to understand their experiences of racial discrimination/microaggression and their associated outcomes and responses. Thematic analysis was employed. The research team consists of both indigenous and non-indigenous coders, who coded, recoded, and formed and compared the themes through the process.

Results: Across all the study participants, growth outcomes following their discriminatory trauma were reported. Specifically, five domains of growth outcomes were identified: 1) Improved Relationship: Community and support systems were developed by disclosing traumatic experiences. 2) Increased Mental and/or Emotional Strength: Acknowledgement and improved coping toward negativities following discrimination trauma were reported. 3) A Senses of New Opportunities and/or Possibilities in Life: Commitments and missions were identified to address racial discrimination. For example, increased involvement in social movement to promote changes. 4) Spiritual Deepening: Involvement of significant changes in values or beliefs by transforming discriminative experiences as a soul-searching journey. 5) Strengthen the Indigenous Identity and Collective Perspective: Strengthen a sense of indigenous membership and incorporate a collective perspective in life; for example, constantly lookout for others who share the same adversity and address concerns in a collective matter.

Conclusions and Implications: This study makes an important contribution to the existing literature as significantly less research has examined PTG following racial trauma among urban indigenous young adults. Findings support the notion that growth outcomes exist following racial trauma among urban indigenous young adults. Compared to the existing PTG literature, findings suggest that the indigenous membership and collective perspective endorsement is the unique growth domain among urban indigenous young adults in Taiwan. Findings further suggest a focus on interpersonal relationships and the indigenous community will be critical to building solutions in promoting urban indigenous young adults’ well-being and fostering their growth following racial trauma in Taiwan. Future research is needed to examine the protective factors contributing to the growth outcomes to investigate the key to battling racial trauma within an indigenous context.