Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Independent Study

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)

Department

Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Breann Lamborn

Abstract

Background: Individuals are being displaced at alarming rates and many are from countries with a Muslim majority. Countries are beginning to study the effects of trauma and displacement on quality of life for refugees. The United States however, is lacking in studies involving health care, quality of life, and occupational justice concerns with Muslim refugees.

Objectives: To identify the experiences of Muslim refugees resettling in the United States and the resulting occupational justice issues, using Occupational Perspective of Health (Wilcock & Hocking, 2015) as an overarching theory.

Methods: Participants were obtained through convenience and snowball sampling. Participants had to be classified as a refugee and self-identify as Muslim to be included in the study. Each participant was interviewed twice utilizing a semi-structured interview with an interpreter as needed. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and coded into themes.

Results: A total of 5 individuals participated. Four themes emerged from the study. Doing represents the daily aspects of the participants’ lives, and the activities they are able or unable, due to barriers, to participate in. Being Muslim in America describes the identity of the participants as Muslim refugees and American together. The third theme, Do I belong?, describes conflicting feelings of belonging and not belonging. Discrimination was a main factor in making the participants feel as they were “other”. The final theme, Becoming, underlines how the occupations of resettling and transitioning to American life have changed the participants.

Conclusion: Refugees have many stressors in resettlement. Financial difficulties and language barrier were the largest issues. Having institutional and social support can make the transition easier. However, more research needs to be conducted to fully understand the effects of resettlement on the occupational wellbeing of Muslim refugees in the U.S. and how to combat these issues.

Significance: Due to increasing number of refugees worldwide, it is imperative that the United States government understand the difficulties these refugees face when resettling. Occupational therapists can be utilized in resettlement to address many of these issues.

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