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Residential mobility, mental health, and community violence exposure among Somali refugees and immigrants in North America

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Date Published

Since refugees and immigrants resettled in high-income countries often later experience a new phase of residential uncertainty in search of safe and secure housing, the current study investigated the effect of past-year housing stability on symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and exposure to neighborhood violence among a sample of first-generation and second-generation Somali young adults (N = 198) living in urban areas in North America.


In 1 year, 8.1 percent of the sample experienced a forced move, and 20.7 percent of the sample moved voluntarily. Discrimination, neighborhood violence, economic insecurity, and interpersonal conflict precipitated forced moves. Forced moves were associated with worsening PTSD symptomology over 1 year, while voluntary moves were associated with improvements in symptoms. The current study provides evidence of the importance of safe, stable housing for the mental health of young adult immigrants. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2020