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Social support needs of Sudanese and Zimbabwean refugee new parents in Canada

Miriam Stewart (Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)
Kaysi Eastlick Kushner (Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)
CindyLee Dennis (Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)
Michael Kariwo (Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)
Nicole Letourneau (Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)
Knox Makumbe (Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)
Edward Makwarimba (Alberta Health Services, Edmonton, Canada)
Edward Shizha (Department of Society, Culture, and Environment, Wilfrid Laurier University, Brantford, Canada)

International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care

ISSN: 1747-9894

Article publication date: 12 June 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine support needs of African refugee new parents in Canada, and identifies support preferences that may enhance the mental health of refugee parents and children.

Design/methodology/approach

In all, 72 refugee new parents from Zimbabwe (n=36) and Sudan (n=36) participated in individual interviews. All had a child aged four months to five years born in Canada. Refugee new parents completed standardized measures on social support resources and support seeking as a coping strategy. Four group interviews (n=30) with refugee new parents were subsequently conducted. In addition, two group interviews (n=30) were held with service providers and policy influencers.

Findings

Separated from their traditional family and cultural supports, refugee new parents reported isolation and loneliness. They lacked support during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum and had limited interactions with people from similar cultural backgrounds. Refugees required support to access services and overcome barriers such as language, complex systems, and limited financial resources. Support preferences included emotional and information support from peers from their cultural community and culturally sensitive service providers.

Research limitations/implications

Psychometric evaluation of the quantitative measures with the two specific populations included in this study had not been conducted, although these measures have been used with ethnically diverse populations by other researchers.

Practical implications

The study findings can inform culturally appropriate health professional practice, program and policy development.

Originality/value

The study bridges gaps in research examining support needs and support intervention preferences of African refugee new parents.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful for the important contributions of the Sudanese and Zimbabwean interviewers and participants and for the funding support from a Alberta Centre for Child, Family & Community Research grant.

Citation

Stewart, M., Kushner, K.E., Dennis, C., Kariwo, M., Letourneau, N., Makumbe, K., Makwarimba, E. and Shizha, E. (2017), "Social support needs of Sudanese and Zimbabwean refugee new parents in Canada", International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 234-252. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMHSC-07-2014-0028

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited