Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

The Effect of Character and Values on Ugandan Adaptation to America

Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

The Effect of Character and Values on Ugandan Adaptation to America

Article excerpt

Abstract: The purpose of this qualitative study was to gain insight into the cultural characteristics and values of Ugandan immigrants, and how those values affected their adaptation to America, while filling a gap in nursing literature for population-specific data. This exploratory study included 8 Ugandan immigrants in the sample. Data came from open-ended tape-recorded interviews, notes on secondary informants, and participant observation. Data analysis identified 8 values, and noted the impact of their character and values on immigrants' bicultural adaptation. The implications for nursing include ways to honor Ugandans' values and enhance professional relationships.

Key Words: Ugandan Adaptation to America, Character and Values, Effect of

The reign of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin Dada in the 1970's and 1980' s drove many citizens to flee Uganda (Black, Milker, Pooley, 2004). The United States of America (U.S.) hosted a number of these refugees when American colleges and universities offered them scholarships. Thus began a rise in Ugandan immigration to the U.S. The British claimed Uganda, East Africa, as a protectorate in the latter part of the 19th century. The British government set up a replica of the British system, and Protestantism spread. When the country's borders were drawn, several kingdoms plus a number of independent organizations were merged (Conrad, 2008). Immigrants to the U.S. from Uganda may come from as many as fifty different ethnic groups (tribes) speaking as many as 45 different languages with English as a second language. Great strides have been made in recent decades to unify the country and overcome ethnic differences (Aker, 2002).

After facing the challenges of teaching nursing for two years to culturally different students in a British modeled educational system in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, the researcher questioned how Ugandan immigrants adapt to America. When she attempted to pursue academic writing about Ugandan immigrants, the literature gap proved frustrating and challenged her to take on this study.


Only one North American (N.A.) research study of Ugandan immigrants was found in the nursing and healthcare literature. Social work Professor H. A. Kamya (1997) measured stress, hardiness, selfesteem, coping resources, and spiritual well-being in 52 African immigrants, 23 of them Ugandans. Higher measures of self-esteem, hardiness, and coping resources were associated with higher scores on the spiritual well-being scale-with religion the dominant factor-and lower scores on the stress scale. Those immigrants, who lived in the U.S. ten years or longer tended to have greater internal strengths for dealing with Stressors, but a downward trend in spiritual well-being, though not significant, occurred with length of stay. Interpretations of these findings must take the limitations of the study into account. The subjects were selected from church membership lists and immigrated primarily for educational reasons, suggesting that they may not be representative of all African immigrants. One study in the United Kingdom assessed the health service utilization for HIV/AIDS prevention by Ugandan migrants, and found they were "avid users" of primary health care facilities (McMunn, Mwanje, Paine, Pozniak, 1998). Studies of Ugandans living in Uganda have addressed various concerns. The most relevant study to the character, values, and immigration of Ugandans identified health beliefs of university students and members of a subject panel as compared to British and South African participants responding to a British "Health and Illness" questionnaire. All the participants placed much importance on individual psychological wellbeing and identified interpersonal stress as potentially noxious. Ugandans believed medical treatment to be an important factor in determining the speed and likelihood of recovery from illness, suggesting that educated persons subscribed to a scientific basis for health and healing rather than a supernatural basis or witchcraft. …

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