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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Psychological difficulties in new refugee-immigrants as a temporary and transitional display of coping adaptive processes Adler, Michal


A majority of refugee-immigrants experience a variety of psychological difficulties during their resettlement in a new country. Using a sentence completion method, this study tested a hypothesis that in a majority of refugee-immigrants the manifested difficulties were of temporary and transitional character. Eighty subjects completed 51-item Incomplete Sentence Blank questionnaires: 20 Canadian-born individuals, 20 refugee-immigrants living 1-3 years in Canada, 20 refugee-immigrants living 5-7 years in Canada, and 20 refugee-immigrants living in Canada over 8 years. All refugee-immigrants were of Czechoslovakian origin. Sample groups were matched in sex, age, and education of subjects. The questionnaire was designed to reflect different levels of satisfaction with self, others, and the whole environment. The responses were quantified and evaluated blindly by three independent judges; the higher score was expressing the higher subject's dissatisfaction. Analysis of variance and consequent multiple comparisons showed that the mean score of the sample of refugee-immigrants living in Canada 1-3 years was significantly higher than the mean scores of all other investigated samples; the differences in mean scores between other samples were not significant. In all sample groups, t-tests did not indicate significant differences in scoring between females and males. Fifty-one analyses of variance and multiple comparisons identified separate questionnaire items on which "new" immigrants scored significantly higher than all or some of other sample groups. These items highlighted the adaptive nature of difficulties experienced by the majority of "new" immigrants. Three brief case studies supported these results. Other related findings included suspicious attitudes found mainly in new immigrants, comments on questionnaire forms differentiating between samples, and the topic of "refugee dreams". All findings seem to indicate that for the majority of new refugee-immigrants the psychological difficulties experienced during their resettlement are of temporary and transitional character, a natural expression of their coping adaptive struggles in a new environment.

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