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Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2016;86(4):393-408. doi: 10.1037/ort0000121. Epub 2015 Nov 30.

Relation of psychosocial factors to diverse behaviors and attitudes among Somali refugees.

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Department of Psychiatry, Boston Children's Hospital.
Sociology Department, Northeastern University.
FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard School of Public Health.
Center for Terrorism and Security Studies, University of Massachusetts.


Refugee studies have examined both resilience and adverse outcomes, but no research has examined how different outcomes co-occur or are distinct, and the social-contextual factors that give rise to these diverse outcomes. The current study begins to address this gap by using latent profile analysis to examine the ways in which delinquency, gang involvement, civic engagement, political engagement, and openness to violent extremism cluster among Somali refugees. We then use multivariable regression analyses to examine how adversity (e.g., discrimination, trauma, and marginalization) is associated with the identified latent classes. Data were collected from 374 Somali refugee young adults (Mage = 21.30 years, SD = 2.90, range 18-30, 38% female) from 4 different North American communities. Participants completed a structured survey assessing their experiences of adversity, delinquent and/or violent attitudes and behaviors (e.g., attitudes toward violent extremism, participation in delinquent behaviors, involvement in gangs), and positive outcomes (e.g., civic and political engagement). Our findings indicate that participants fall into 5 distinct groups, and that social-contextual and individual factors are uniquely related to those groups. Specifically, strong social bonds seem to be associated with positive outcomes. These findings point to the need to further examine both positive and negative outcomes, paying special attention to social-contextual factors. (PsycINFO Database Record.

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