Publication date: October 2019
Source: Journal of Adolescence, Volume 76
Author(s): Jessy Guler, Steven L. Berman
This study examines the relations among native and host country acculturation, identity distress, and internalizing symptoms among multicultural adolescent refugees (N = 33) resettled to the United States from a range of countries including Cuba, Iraq, Jordan, Haiti, Colombia, and Venezuela. Despite previous research supporting the advantages of developing a bicultural style to acculturation, mixed results have been found regarding native and host country acculturation patterns among resettled refugees and how these patterns may be associated with refugee mental health outcomes.
The objective of this study was not only to consider the roles that US and native acculturation may play on the self-report of identity distress and internalizing symptoms among refugee adolescents more broadly, but also to consider the role various dimensions of acculturation (e.g., cultural identity, language competence, and cultural competence) may play for refugee adolescents post-resettlement.
Results and Conclusions
The study findings indicate that native acculturation, and more specifically native cultural identity, may serve as significant protective factors against identity distress among adolescent refugees post-resettlement, with native cultural identity additionally serving as a protective factor against internalizing symptoms. US acculturation was not found to be significantly associated with identity distress or internalizing symptoms, nor were the acculturative dimensions of language learning (i.e., English and native language competencies), cultural knowledge (i.e., US and native cultural knowledge competencies), or US cultural identity. Recommendations and implications for practice and future research are discussed.