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Acculturation and psychosocial adjustment of African adolescent refugees in the United States: the role of social support

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  • Africans $Z America $X Cultural Assimilation
  • Refugees $Z Africa
  • Teenage Immigrants $Z United States $X Social Conditions
  • Teenage Immigrants $Z United States $X Mental Health
  • Social Networks
  • Medicine


The ongoing wars around the world have led to an ever increasing exodus of refugee populations for resettlement in developed countries, including the U.S. Importantly, it has been estimated that the bulk of these refugees in resettlement countries are comprised of children and adolescents under the age of 18 (Halcon et al., 2004; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, 2007). Previous research (e.g., Ellis, Macdonald, Lincoln, & Cabral, 2008; Layne et al., 2001; Smith, Perrin, Yule, Hacam, & Stuvland, 2002) mainly has focused on past traumatic experiences, diagnoses, and treatment modalities. An important link between acculturation, social support, and adolescent refugees' adjustment within new environments has been established (e.g., Kovacev & Shute, 2004). These aspects have not been examined, however, with African adolescent refugees in the U.S. Using a sample of African adolescent refugees (N = 70) in a mid-sized city in the Southeast, this study examined acculturation, social support, and psychosocial adjustment among African adolescent refugees from different African countries resettled in the U.S. Results indicated a strong relationship between social support and psychosocial adjustment. Both peer and parental support were central in the adjustment of adolescents. Furthermore, exploratory analyses showed there were main effects for time lived in the U.S. Results showed that, overall, for both boys and girls, time spent in the US was associated with higher scores.

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