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Gilgamesh: Mental health, meaning-seeking, and adaptation in the acculturation process among Iraqi immigrants in Sweden
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology. (Religionspsykologi)
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences. (Religionspsykologi)
2013 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Aims: to determine the daily life use of religio-cultural resources; explore perceptions and explanations of mental illness related to religio-cultural resources; map the type and degree of trauma the refugees have experienced prior to immigration and the current level of depression and aPTSD; map the type and degree of problems and resources following the asylum period in Sweden.


Method: The study has used a mixed method, multi-stage research design, incorporating qualitative and quantitative instruments, thus increasing the validity and generalizability of the results. Semi-structured interviews, including biographical network maps, as well as questionnaires to explore the health situation of research persons has been used, in two cities in Sweden (n=23). The instruments used are the 3-R (Relation, Religion, Ritual, with a network map); Acculturation; Care Consumption; Trauma; Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale, (CES-D – focusing on psychological distress); Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ – focusing on somatic symptoms); Connor-Davidsson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC); MINI (Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview). Additional semi-structured interviews with integration and policy planners, active within the sphere of health care, welfare, and labour market, as well as cultural brokers (social and religious associations, key persons) have also been conducted.


Theory: The theoretical framework in this study is situated in the relation between religion, existential worldview and refugee mental health. The survival and adaptational model by Silove (2005) provides a conceptual framework for understanding the existential meaning-system in mental health initiatives among refugees in post-conflict societies. Attention to ethnicity, gender and immigration status variables is made for understanding the effect of religious practices on mental health in the new cultural context.


Preliminary results: The results from this study show that while cultural identification with ethnic origin is very strong, the cultural identification with Swedish culture is weak, mainly due to language barriers and limited contact with Swedish people. Prior to migration religion has been a functional system of meaning for most of the participants, while today in a post migration context work, family situation and future concerns are more important for a functional system of meaning. Concerns for work, together with the situation of friends and relatives in Iraq or scattered all around the world is a strong risk for psychological distress. This is more so for women than for men, as for the former the traditional systems of meaning are less functional in Sweden. This is reflected in the high scores of somatic symptoms among the participants.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Refugees, acculturation, Iraqis, Sweden
Keyword [sv]
Flyktingar, ackulturation, irakier, Sverige
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Psychology of Religion
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-217075OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-217075DiVA: diva2:691809
International Association for the Psychology of Religion. August 27-30, 2013, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
Gilgamesh: Mental health, meaning-seeking, and adaptation
Swedish Research Council, 9021 7902
Available from: 2014-01-28 Created: 2014-01-28 Last updated: 2014-01-28

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