What is the evidence for strengths-based and trauma-informed approaches?

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Evidence Summary
August 2020

Evaluations of strengths-based and trauma-informed approaches with refugees are limited, but they provide moderately strong positive evidence for a variety of outcomes.

  • Five studies were identified that have examined the outcomes of strengths-based approaches with refugee clients. These studies have addressed diverse outcomes including health, mental health, social support, English proficiency, and cultural and community connections. Two of these studies are impact evaluations providing moderate evidence supporting strengths-based approaches; the remainder provide positive suggestive evidence.
  • One study was found that evaluated the impact of the trauma-informed approach. This study examined early childhood development and maternal well-being, and yielded positive moderate evidence.
  • The interventions evaluated in these studies have included a variety of individual, group, and community services, including case advocacy, mutual learning, stress and coping education, peer support, home visiting, and community health.

Strengths-based approaches are flexible and appropriate for diverse refugee clients.

  • Strengths-based approaches can take many forms and have shown promising results with refugee clients of diverse genders, ages, national origins, and ethnicities.

Research is needed on the trauma-informed approach with refugees and on the joint effects of strengths-based and trauma-informed approaches.

  • Additionally, strengths-based and trauma-informed approaches share some commonalities. In practice, they are often used together. Further research is needed on how the two approaches interact and on their joint impact on client outcomes.
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