Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 55, Issue 3, pp 385–393 | Cite as

Trauma, Discrimination, and Psychological Distress Across Vietnamese Refugees and Immigrants: A Life Course Perspective

  • Isok KimEmail author
  • Mary Keovisai
  • Wooksoo Kim
  • Sarah Richards-Desai
  • Asli C. Yalim
Original Paper


Vietnamese Americans are a heterogeneous group with varied migration histories. The life course perspective (LCP) suggests that different migration histories (immigrant vs. refugee) may affect their psychological health. Using Vietnamese refugee (n = 291) and immigrant (n = 211) subsamples from the National Latino and Asian American Study, selected LCP factors relevant to foreign-born Vietnamese were examined for their associations with psychological distress. Two separate regressions were conducted to examine differential factors across the subgroups. Results showed that sex, age at immigration, and pre- and post-migration traumas were significant factors for refugees. Among immigrants, only racial discrimination was significant factor. The results suggest that applying LCP among Vietnamese Americans helps to discern factors associated with their psychological distress outcomes depending on their initial immigration status. The results also indicate that healthcare professionals should consider the migration background of foreign-born Vietnamese in screening for potential psychological issues, particularly around their trauma history and discriminatory experiences.


Life course perspective Vietnamese Americans Refugees Immigrants Psychological distress 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethnical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Institutional Review Board at the corresponding author’s institution had reviewed and approved the use of the restricted NLAAS dataset, a secondary data obtained from the ICPSR at the University of Michigan, as an exempted status.

Informed Consent

For this type of study, formal consent is not required.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social WorkUniversity at BuffaloBuffaloUSA

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