A qualitative investigation of somali immigrant perceptions of disability: Implications for genetic counseling

Carrie J. Greeson, Patricia Mc Carthy Veach, Bonnie S. LeRoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examined the potential utility of genetic counseling services for Somali immigrants by investigating their perceptions of disability. Five Somali women participated in structured interviews that assessed their perceptions of the nature, causes, and impact of disability, and care for persons with disabilities. Using a Heideggerian Hermeneutics qualitative method of analysis, six major themes emerged: (1) disability refers to both physical and mental conditions, with mental disability generally thought of first and as more severe; (2) in Somalia, the family cares for disabled family members, treating them as if they were "normal"; (3) there are major cultural differences between Somalia and the United States in how persons with disabilities are treated; (4) caring for a person with a disability is stressful for the family; (5) Allah determines whether or not a child will be disabled, and this cannot be predicted or altered; and (6) family is the primary life focus, and therefore, risk of disability does not affect reproductive decisions. These themes suggest that traditional genetic counseling may have limited utility for Somali immigrants. We recommend several modifications to traditional genetic counseling for Somali patients that also may be useful for populations that have similar beliefs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-378
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Volume10
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 1 2001

Keywords

  • Genetic counseling
  • Perceptions of disability
  • Somali immigrants

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