Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


Date of this Version

Summer 5-2016


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Human Sciences (Child, Youth and Family Studies), Under the Supervision of Professor Yan R. Xia. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2016

Copyright © 2016 Kieu Anh T. Do


Every day, new waves of refugees result from increasing social, political and environmental instabilities around the world. Numerous studies have detailed the various stressors and adjustment issues that refugees face when resettled in a new host society. The majority of these studies focus on individual-level variables and not on the family as a whole. Thus, more studies are needed to understand how refugee families adjust in the resettlement context in order to promote positive outcomes. Studies that have examined family-level functioning often focus on how acculturative differences increase stress in refugee families, contributing to higher levels of familial tension and conflict. This is referred to as the acculturation gap-distress hypothesis. However, these adverse effects have not been found consistently. The purpose of this dyadic, mixed methods study is to address the limitations in the literature by testing the acculturation gap-distress hypothesis, and to explore the relationship between acculturation, stress and refugee family functioning.

Survey results of this study did not provide support for the acculturation gap-distress hypothesis. Perceived stress did not mediate the relationship between acculturation gaps and family functioning. Qualitative findings supported the notion that acculturation changes across the life course. Most tension and stress occurred during the early part of resettlement, when children were younger. As children and parents adjust to the host society, they learn and accept their differences and recognize these differences as strengths. These results and findings have important implications for service providers and resettlement agencies in establishing services that are crucial to the long-term adjustment of refugee families.

Advisor: Yan R. Xia