Contextualizing the trauma experience of women immigrants from Central America, South America, and Mexico

Stacey Kaltman, Alejandra Hurtado de Mendoza, Felisa A. Gonzales, Adriana Serrano, Peter Guarnaccia

Publication Date: 12/01/2011

Trauma has been understudied among Latina immigrants from Central and South America. This study examined the types and context of trauma exposure experienced by immigrant women from Central America, South America, and Mexico living in the United States. Twenty-eight women seeking care in primary care or social service settings completed life history interviews. The majority of the women reported some type of trauma exposure in their countries of origin, during immigration, and/or in the United States. In the interviews, we identified types of trauma important to the experience of these immigrants that are not queried by trauma assessments typically used in the United States. We also identified factors that are likely to amplify the impact of trauma exposure. The study highlights the importance of utilizing a contextualized approach when assessing trauma exposure among immigrant women.