According to the Census, approximately 90,000 Iraqi-born immigrants lived in the United States in 2000 and more than one third of them had been granted refugee status. Many of these recent refugees from Iraq witnessed violence under Saddam Hussein’s regime or suffered because of war, resulting in trauma that that may affect their adaptation to American society. People often show the symptoms of trauma differently depending on their cultural background. Understanding the refugee community’s perceptions of trauma is important in order to develop successful intervention programs.
With this in mind, Ibrahim Kira and Vidya Ramaswamy have received support from the Foundation for a study of Iraqi refugees in metropolitan Detroit. They will examine how different types of trauma (such as those caused by war, displacement, and adaptation to new environments) affect the overall adjustment of the refugees. Kira and Ramaswamy already have data on a group of 500 Iraqi refugees — 90 percent Shiite Muslims, 5.8 percent Sunni Muslims, and 3.2 percent Christians, aged 12 to 79. They will conduct six focus groups with a portion of the sample and analyze the relationship between trauma factors and socio-cultural factors with respect to age, sex, and education. The results of the research will be published in scholarly articles submitted to psychological journals.