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Well-Being of Refugees from Burma: A Salutogenic Perspective

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Abstract

A salutogenic approach explored themes of strength and well-being in life stories of Burmese refugees (= 18) in Australia. Previous refugee studies have tended to focus on negative responses to traumatic events (e.g. posttraumatic stress disorder, depression). To widen the scope of refugee related research the focus of the current study was informed by a salutogenic perspective, exploring sources of strength that may facilitate well-being. Semi-structured narrative interviews explored: the participant's life before fleeing Burma, the journey of exile, and post-migration in Australia. Eight women and 10 men (Mage = 39 years) were interviewed and transcriptions analysis of narratives was conducted using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), with major themes being explicated. Super-ordinate themes pertaining to strength during times of hardship were identified and explicated as: support from interpersonal relationships, the pivotal role of values, a sense of future and agency, and reliance on spiritual or religious beliefs. Results indicate the existence of sources of strength that may contribute to human responses in times of hardship. Recognition and reflection of strengths may be incorporated into therapeutic and resettlement approaches for people from refugee backgrounds.

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