Capturing the meaning of well-being among Arab Americans
Scholars have posed questions about how well-being can promote resilience, particularly for racial minorities in the United States. Research on Arab Americans has largely focused on examining psychological distress and dysfunction. Shifting the emphasis to well-being can allow for a more holistic understanding of Arab Americans’ mental health. To accomplish this objective, determining how to correctly assess and define well-being for Arab Americans is necessary, and it also will help to investigate the cross-cultural validity of the concept and scales employed to measure this concept. Relying on the Systemic Test of Equivalence Procedure (STEP), Pilot Study One explored whether current measures of well-being (i.e., Subjective Well-being Assessment Scale, Life Satisfaction Scale, Ryff Scales of Psychological Well-being) accurately capture the meaning of well-being for Arab Americans. The three experts in this study reported that current well-being scales should be adapted to be more culturally relevant for Arab Americans. Again, guided by the STEP, Pilot Study Two examined whether additional items and/or dimensions were needed to capture the meaning of well-being for Arab Americans. In this study, 15 Arab American community members created scale items after being provided with the definitions of previously established well-being scale dimensions. Further, these persons generated novel items and dimensions of well-being that targeted concepts such as family and community expectations, religion, and discrimination. Findings from both pilot studies were utilized to construct a new measure called, the Arab American Well-being Scale (AAWS). In another study, responses from 380 participants to the AAWS were subjected to an exploratory factor analysis. Results revealed that the AAWS was comprised of six-factors: Subjective Well-being, Spirituality, Family and Community Expectations, Personal Growth, Economic Security, and Discrimination Concern. In yet one more study, a confirmatory factor analysis with a distinct sample of 224 participants provided additional support for the six-factor structure of the AAWS. Construct validity was further established by obtaining significant correlations between responses to the AAWS and a measure of subjective happiness. Research, training, and clinical implications related to the use of the AAWS are discussed.