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Impacts of a social support intervention for Somali and Sudanese refugees in Canada

Miriam Stewart (Based at the Social Support Research Program, Faculty of Nursing and School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)
Laura Simich (Based at the Center on Immigration and Justice, Vera Institute of Justice, New York, New York, USA)
Morton Beiser (Based in the Department of Psychology, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada)
Knox Makumbe (Based at the Social Support Research Program, Faculty of Nursing and School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)
Edward Makwarimba (Based at the Social Support Research Program, Faculty of Nursing and School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)
Edward Shizha (Based in the Department of Contemporary Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University, Brantford, Canada)

Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care

ISSN: 1757-0980

Article publication date: 17 November 2011

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Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to design and pilot test a culturally tailored intervention that meets the support needs and preferences of two refugee groups.

Design/methodology/approach

The study employed a multi‐method participatory research design and was conducted in two urban centres in western and central Canada. Support was delivered to Sudanese and Somali refugees (n=58), by trained peer and professional helpers, in face‐to‐face groups matched by gender and ethnicity and in telephone dyads. Participants completed three quantitative measures before (pre‐test) and following (post‐test) the intervention. Group interviews with refugee participants and individual interviews with peer and professional helpers conducted at post‐test, elicited qualitative data on perceived impacts and factors influencing impacts of the intervention. Service providers and policy influencers (n=22) were interviewed in groups about the implications of this intervention study for services, programs and policies.

Findings

There were significant increases in perceived support and social integration and significant decreases in loneliness following the intervention. Participants reported that they learned how to seek services and supports and how to cope with challenges faced by refugees. Service providers and policy influencers were impressed by the success of the intervention.

Originality/value

No peer support intervention studies focused on the unique support needs of African refugees have been reported. This pilot intervention study demonstrates the supportive power of like‐ethnic peers and could guide subsequent community‐based intervention trials and the design of culturally appropriate health‐related programs.

Keywords

Citation

Stewart, M., Simich, L., Beiser, M., Makumbe, K., Makwarimba, E. and Shizha, E. (2011), "Impacts of a social support intervention for Somali and Sudanese refugees in Canada", Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care, Vol. 4 No. 4, pp. 186-199. https://doi.org/10.1108/17570981111250840

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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