Interdisciplinary Wellbeing Construct Developed Among Resettled Refugees

  • Renée Martin-WillettEmail author
  • M. Blevins
  • L. Bailey
  • Z. McCormick
  • M. H. Aliyu


US refugee resettlement emphasizes wellbeing; however, the definition of “wellbeing” is debated and the unreliability of surveys for refugees has been underscored. This pilot study utilized community engaged research principles to develop a composite measurement scale from the domains of somatic experience, occupational balance, social inclusion, and self-identification, leveraging consumer technology to pragmatically administer the material to a diverse group with varied literacy. Following qualitative data collection from March 2014 to February 2015, 65 participants from Bhutan or Myanmar were recruited from an agricultural program or through their resettlement caseworker to participate in a tablet-based survey from February to July 2015. Fifty-six (86%) participants were evaluable. Seventeen measures reduced into three sub-scales, and analyses demonstrated a statistically significant correlation between the slopes of somatic experience and occupational balance (p = 0.039). Somatic experience exhibited statistically significant differences between the two ethnic groups, but no other significant differences were observed by age, gender, time, or between the agricultural and home-based participants. Our results suggest the utility of the survey among diverse groups and the potential for a novel multi-dimensional wellbeing construct to be used in community-based settings.


Refugees Resettlement Wellbeing Composite measurement scales Health technology Community-engaged research 



This research, subsequent data analysis, and manuscript preparation were conducted at Vanderbilt University. Thanks are due to the study staff that helped enable this project, including Damber Kharel, Ja Ring Laipai, Doi Ling, Bhumika Piya, and Anamika Sharma. Thanks also to the Bhutanese and Burmese resettled refugee communities in Nashville, Amy Richardson and the Nashville Refugee Task Force, Mitra Chamlagai and Anna Beth Walters of Nashville World Relief, and the faculty of the Vanderbilt Center for Medicine, Health and Society.


This work was supported by the Anne Potter Wilson Award, Vanderbilt Institute of Global Health and the Meharry-Vanderbilt Community Engaged Scholar Award, Meharry-Vanderbilt Community Engaged Research Core.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vanderbilt Institute of Global HealthVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Center for Medicine, Health and SocietyVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  3. 3.University of Colorado BoulderBoulderUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiostatisticsVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  5. 5.The Nashville Food ProjectNashvilleUSA
  6. 6.Trailblazing Technology, Inc.NashvilleUSA

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