Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma in Vietnamese Refugee Families

Linda M Ly, Tennessee State University


The United States has long become home to Vietnamese refugees. Though resettling comes with its own stressors, refugees may have also experienced trauma before arriving to the U.S. The experience of premigration trauma may have consequences not only on the refugees themselves but on their U.S.-born offspring as well. This study investigated intergenerational transmission of trauma in Vietnamese refugee families. This quantitative study examined the mediating effects of attachment between perceived parental trauma and emotional distress in the U.S.-born adult children of Vietnamese refugees. The sample was composed of 301 second-generation Vietnamese American adults, who had at least one parent who was a Vietnamese refugee. The findings demonstrated that anxious attachment mediated the relationship between both perceived maternal and paternal trauma and the emotional distress of adult children. Avoidant attachment did not mediate the relationship between paternal trauma and emotional distress. However, avoidant attachment did have a mediating effect in the relationship between maternal trauma and emotional distress in participants. The findings provide more nuanced information about Vietnamese refugee family experience in the U.S., instead of lumping all Southeast Asian refugee families into one category. These results may help clinicians better assess the needs of second-generation Vietnamese American clients.

Subject Area

Psychology|Asian American Studies|Mental health

Recommended Citation

Linda M Ly, "Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma in Vietnamese Refugee Families" (2022). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI29259071.