Satisfaction with life of refugees and immigrants
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The relationship between satisfaction with life (SWL), acculturation attitudes and distress generated by trauma was explored in a regression study of a community sample of refugees and immigrants living in Central Texas. A total of 71 participants came from 9 different countries, with the immigrant group (N = 36) coming from Mexico and the refugees (N = 35) predominantly from Cuba and Vietnam. Most participants were female (77%) and married (75%), with an age range of 18 to 73. Immigrant participants had completed fewer years of formal education than the refugees, and were in general younger. Most participants completed a back-translated Spanish version of the measures. The Satisfaction With Life Scale was used, while the Los Angeles Symptom Checklist provided a measure of distress generated by trauma. Acculturation attitudes were examined with the Stephenson Multigroup Acculturation Scale, which provides orthogonal measures of orientation towards the ethnic group of origin and towards the dominant, Anglo society in the United States. There were no significant differences between the refugee and immigrant samples on these measures. Distress related to trauma was a significant negative predictor of SWL for refugees (b = -.57, p = .001), but not for the immigrant sample. Similarly, orientation towards the dominant society was a significant positive predictor of SWL for refugees (b = .41, p = .009) but not for immigrants. A cross sectional analysis was performed to determine how the variables were related to length of time in the US. While a lack of statistical power precluded the use of ANOVA, means comparisons indicate a curvilinear relationship between time and the attitude towards Anglo society among the immigrant sample. Those present 2 to 5 years were less immersed than either those more recently arrived or those who have been here longer. This middle group also reported more psychological distress. Among refugees the direction of the curvilinear relationship was contrary. Implications for the organization of social services to immigrants are discussed.