Gendered sources of distress and resilience among afghan refugees in Northern California: A cross-sectional study

Carl Stempel, Nilofar Sami, Patrick Koga, Qais Alemi, Valerie Smith, Aida Shirazi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Recent studies have emphasized the influence of resettlement factors on the mental health of refugees resettling in developed countries. However, little research has addressed gender differences in the nature and influence of resettlement stressors and sources of resilience. We address this gap in knowledge by investigating how gender moderates and mediates the influence of several sources of distress and resilience among 259 Afghan refugees residing in Northern California (USA). Gender moderated the effects of four factors on levels of distress. Intimate and extended family ties have little correlation with men’s distress levels, but are strongly associated with lower distress for women. English ability is positively associated with lower distress for women, but not men. In terms of gender ideology, traditionally oriented women and egalitarian men have lower levels of distress. And experiencing greater dissonant acculturation increases distress for men, but not women. The influence of gender interaction terms is substantial and patterns may reflect difficulty adapting to a different gender order. Future studies of similar populations should investigate gender differences in sources of distress and resilience, and efforts to assist new arrivals might inform them of changes in gender roles they may experience, and facilitate opportunities to renegotiate gender roles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number25
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Afghan
  • Dissonant acculturation
  • Gender and mental health
  • Gender ideology
  • Refugee mental health
  • Resettlement stressors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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