Psychological dysfunction in Southeast Asian refugees as mediated by sense of coherence

Am J Community Psychol. 1997 Dec;25(6):839-59. doi: 10.1023/a:1022217330005.


Investigated Antonovky's (1979, 1987) construct of sense of coherence (i.e., an individual's belief that the world was comprehensible, manageable, and meaningful) as the internal psychological mechanism mediating the effects of external stressors (generalized resistance deficits) and resources on psychological dysfunction (measured by depression, anxiety, and psychosocial dysfunction) in 2,234 Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, Hmong, and Chinese-Vietnamese refugees. Generalized resistance and deficits significantly predicted sense of coherence as well as psychological dysfunction. The amount of variance accounted for increased significantly when the mediating effect of sense of coherence was tested using a path analysis. Sense of coherence significantly reduced the predictive power of generalized resistance and deficits in the psychological dysfunction models. Results support the hypothesized mediating role of sense of coherence. Thus, interventions aiming to enhance Southeast Asian refugees' functioning may gain in effectiveness by targeting and promoting their sense of coherence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Asia, Southeastern / ethnology
  • Asian Americans / psychology*
  • California
  • Defense Mechanisms
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Adjustment
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*