Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Nursing

Dissertation Committee

Patricia A. Roth, EdD, RN, Chair; Mary Jo Clark, PhD, RN; Barbara Frye Anderson, DrPH, RN


Cambodian, Grounded theory, nursing, perception, refugees, resettlement, women


This grounded theory study was an inquiry into the perceptions of health of Cambodian women in resettlement and the conditions that influenced their perceptions. Few studies of Cambodian women who escaped political conflict exist. Cambodian women were among the waves of Southeast Asian refugees who have resettled in the United States. The sequelae of significant life trauma upon the health of Cambodian women in resettlement have received little attention in the nursing literature. There is less information about their perceptions of health in resettlement as their beliefs about health and illness causation contrast with those of Western health care providers. Thirty-nine Cambodian women, whose ages ranged from 19–80 years, participated in this study. The women were recruited through a social service organization, community contacts, and verbal referrals. Ninety percent of the women were Buddhist. Forty-six percent of the women were widowed. Among the participants, 52% arrived in the U.S. between 1979 and 1981, 20% arrived between 1982 and 1988, and 28% arrived between 1992 and 1999. A semi-structured interview guide of open-ended questions and a conversational approach to dialogue and data gathering facilitated the interview process. The researcher worked closely with one proficient translator for the duration of interviews in this study. The women were interviewed in their homes, at the social service agency, or at the local Buddhist temple. Seeking Life Balance emerged as the core perspective of this study. Major thematic categories which supported this core perspective were Emerging from Chaos, Patterns of Knowing, Caring for Oneself, and Reaching a Turning Point. The relationships between seeking life balance, patterns of knowing, and caring for self are important ones and must be supported in resettlement. These relationships ultimately result in consequences of Disharmony or Harmony. The perceptions of health of Cambodian women in this study are wholistic ones that have been forged by their experiences and life processes. The knowledge generated from this study will further health-related research about refugee women in resettlement and will contribute to theory building linkages that are largely absent from current nursing research.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons