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Exploratory Study of Distress among Spouses of International Students

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Title:
Exploratory Study of Distress among Spouses of International Students
Creator:
Bigler, Monika
Place of Publication:
[Gainesville, Fla.]
Florida
Publisher:
University of Florida
Publication Date:
Language:
english
Physical Description:
1 online resource (117 p.)

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Doctorate ( Ph.D.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Counseling Psychology
Psychology
Committee Chair:
Neimeyer, Greg J.
Committee Members:
Farrar, Michael J.
Rice, Kenneth G.
Fukuyama, Mary A.
Roberts, Churchill L.
Graduation Date:
12/14/2007

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Academic achievement ( jstor )
Husbands ( jstor )
International students ( jstor )
Marital satisfaction ( jstor )
Psychological regression ( jstor )
Psychological stress ( jstor )
Psychology ( jstor )
Psychometrics ( jstor )
Social psychology ( jstor )
Spouses ( jstor )
Psychology -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
acculturation, adjustment, foreign, international, marital, psychological, social, sojourners, spouses, students, wives
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
born-digital ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Counseling Psychology thesis, Ph.D.

Notes

Abstract:
Female spouses of international students who enter the United States on a dependent visa status experience a unique set of challenges while accompanying their husbands abroad. Over the past five decades, international students have become a significant presence on United States university campuses, with approximately 565,000 international students from over 180 countries recorded in 2004. Survey data show that approximately 23% of international graduate students are married, and 85% of married international students arrive for their sojourn in the company of their spouse or partner. While international students have attracted considerable research interest and represent one of the most intensely studied populations in the culture contact literature, spouses of international students have received comparatively little attention. This study of 134 female spouses of international students examined the relationship between spouses' acculturative stress and psychological distress as well as the role of social support and marital satisfaction as potential moderators in the link between acculturative stress and psychological distress. It also tested additional exploratory questions related to spousal adjustment, including English fluency, financial concerns, stress related to husband's academic progress, goals for the sojourn, and occupational and homemaker role reward value. Participants were solicited by a combination of email, letters, and flyers sent to international student organization and programs at 45 U.S. universities with the largest number of international students. Results of hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed a positive relationship between acculturative stress and psychological distress. High and low levels of marital satisfaction moderated the relationship between acculturative stress and psychological distress while social support did not. Results of exploratory research questions showed, among others, a positive relationship between the amount of spouses? support programs offered by their husbands? universities and spouses? levels of perceived social support. Results are addressed by discussing challenges faced by spouses of international students, the role of marital relationship as well as the necessity and nature of programs offered to spouses and international couples during their sojourn. ( en )
General Note:
In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note:
Includes vita.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description:
Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description:
This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Thesis:
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2007.
Local:
Adviser: Neimeyer, Greg J.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Monika Bigler.

Record Information

Source Institution:
UFRGP
Rights Management:
Copyright Bigler, Monika. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Classification:
LD1780 2007 ( lcc )

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study examined the difference between separate versus simultaneous arrival on levels of marital

satisfaction, acculturative stress, and psychological distress. No relationship between separate

versus simultaneous arrival and levels of marital satisfaction, acculturative stress, and

psychological distress was found. Thus, on these three dimensions, spouses who had arrived

simultaneously with their partners did not significantly differ from spouses who had arrived after

their partners on measures of marital satisfaction, acculturative stress, and psychological distress.

The absence of a statistical relationship between the two arrival scenarios and aspects of

psychological distress appears inconsistent with stresses that might accompany separation, and

for this reason this effect may merit future attention. Similarly, examining different lengths of

separation in relation to spouses' adjustment levels may assist in further exploring this issue.

Decision making about sojourn

Couples may differ in their approach to decision-making about the soj ourn. Some couples

engage in a collaborative process of deciding about the sojourn, whereas others have a more

unilateral decision-making process, with the husband primarily making the decision. In the

current sample, 69.4% of the participants specified that they had made the decision to come to

the United States "together with their husbands," 20.1% responded that "their husband had made

the decision because it was important for his career," and 10.4% responded in the category of

"other." In turn, the couple' s type of decision-making and spouses' levels of marital satisfaction,

acculturative stress and psychological distress were examined. In the current study, type of

decision-making, j oint versus husband, failed to have an effect on spouses' levels of marital

satisfaction, acculturative stress and psychological distress.

In her qualitative study on soj ourning spouses, De Verthelyi (1995) noted that out of 49

spouses interviewed, "the maj ority [...] named their husband as the sole originator of the

soj ourn" (p. 394). Further, De Verthelyi also stated that spouses "prioritizing their own needs









and cleaning services (De Verthelyi, 1995). J-2 dependents, in contrast, are permitted to seek

employment as long as the income does not make a significant contribution to the couple's

budget (MIT, International Scholars Office, 2007). Nevertheless, lack of English language skills,

unfamiliarity with U. S. j ob search practices and difficulties of transferring educational degrees

may hinder spouses from obtaining employment that is commensurate with previous career

aspirations and level of occupation. Lastly, international students and spouses may be dependent

on fluctuating exchange rates between the U.S. dollar and their home currency (Koyama, 2005).

As a result of their limited ability to financially contribute to the household income, spouses may

be vigilant as to the couple's financial status, which in turn may impact their psychological well-

being.

Husband academic progress

Similarly, a positive relationship between spouses' concern about husbands' academic

progress and psychological distress was detected. This finding is consistent with previous,

qualitative studies reporting a relationship between spouses' concern about their husband's

academic progress and stress reactions such as "grief and resentment" (Shao, 2001). Whereas for

international students, the overall success of the soj ourn is closely related to their academic

success, spouses may be similarly impacted by their partner' s progress. Spouses often have to

temporarily give up their own career goals in order to accompany their partners abroad. In the

current sample, 79.9% of the spouses who took the survey indicated that they had a job or career

before moving to the United States, and 17.9% stated that did not pursue a career or job before

the transition. Similarly, educational levels of accompanying spouses in the current sample are

high, with approximately 44% of participants indicating that they hold at least a master' s degree,

and 46% having graduated from college. Qualitative studies on spouses of international students

have consistently pointed to the professional role changes that spouses of international students









to the full model by the interaction term. Similarly, subscales of the Social Support measure did

not individually qualify the main effect.

Regression results for the second regression are displayed in Table 4 7. Significant main

effects were observed for Marital Dissatisfaction and Acculturative Stress, such that

Psychological Distress increased as Marital Dissatisfaction and Acculturative Stress increased.

These main effects accounted for approximately 3 5% of the variance in Psychological Distress.

However, an interaction between Acculturative Stress and Marital Dissatisfaction qualified the

main effects. Figure 1 displays the significant interaction effect of Marital Satisfaction in the link

between Acculturative Stress and Psychological Distress. This plot was developed by following

the procedures described by Cohen et al. (2003). Regression lines were used to plot

Psychological Distress at low (1 SD below the mean), and high (1 SD above the mean) for the

predictors Acculturative Stress and Marital Satisfaction. Consequently, and following procedures

outlined by Aiken & West (1991), significance of simple slopes of regression lines at single

values of the second predictor were tested (Aiken & West, 1991; Darlington, 1990; Friedrich,

1982; Jaccard, Turrisi, & Wan, 1990). First, standard errors of the simple slopes of regression

equations were calculated. Then t-tests for the significance of the simple slopes were computed.

Analyses of the interaction slopes showed that Psychological Distress increased significantly at

high and low levels of Acculturative Stress when Marital Dissatisfaction was low, P = .30, t(129)

= 2.88, p < .01, and when it was high, P = .57, t(129) = 5.55, p < .001 (see Figure 4 1).

Secondary Research Questions and Hypotheses

The secondary research questions addressed the relationship between spouses' level of

Psychological Distress and English Language Fluency, Financial Concerns, Stress Related to

Husband' s Academic Progress, and Number of Goals for the Soj ourn. English Language Fluency










Table 4 5 Mean, standard deviation, and alpha coefficient for primary and secondary variables
Variable M SD a
1. ASSIS 92.21 21.60 .93
2. ISSS 48.10 14.60 .96
3. ISSS-SE 22.57 7.42 .94
4. ISSS-I 25.54 8.20 .95
5. RAS 30.67 4.07 .88
RAS adj .60 .36 NA
6. BSI 88.23 29.79 .97
BSI transformed 1.92 .14 NA
7. LRSS-C 19.32 3.68 .72
8. LRS S-H 19.95 4.08 .82
9. EF 11.42 2.86 .90
10. ILS-FC 7.32 2.76 .81
11. ILS-HAP 8.15 2.77 .56
12. Age 29.48 4.20 NA
Note. ASSIS = Acculturative Stress; ISSS = Index of Sojourner Social Support; ISSS-SE = Index
of Soj ourner Social Support Socio-Emotional; ISSS-I = Index of Soj ourner Social Support -
Instrumental; RAS = Marital Satisfaction; BSI =Brief Symptoms Inventory Psychological
Distress; LRSS-C = Life Role Saliency Scale Occupational Reward Value Scale (Career);
LRSS-H = Life Role Saliency Scale Homecare Role Reward Value Scale (Homemaker); EF =
English Fluency; ILS-FC = Index of Life Stress Financial Concerns; ILS-HAP = Index of Life
Stress Stress Related to Husband's Academic Progress; BSI adj = transformed; MS adj =
transformed .










perception of increased functional fitness and autonomy in dealing with the host culture as well

as from finding a role of her own which conveyed meaning to the soj ourn" (p. 404-405). Overall,

while the De Verthelyi's study (1995) provides an extensive examination of potential factors

impacting spouses' adjustment, her qualitative work is not based on a specified theoretical

foundation, nor does she propose theories in relation to spouses' adjustment.

In her qualitative dissertation, Day (2003) studied the experience of spouses of

international students and postdoctoral fellows along a variety of dimensions, among them

language, preparation for sojourn, cultural differences, identity, and perceived changes in

themselves and their husbands' education. Day investigated the experience of two groups of 10

foreign wives who had been living in the New Jersey area for the duration of 6 months to 18

months. The first group (with limited English fluency) provided written answers to a

questionnaire and the second group participated in interviews. Ahead of her analysis, the author

further divided the participants into "culturally near" and "culturally distant" groups, based on

the country of origin and extant literature about cultural differences between the U.S. and the

participants' countries of origin. Apart from this distinction, no method of analysis is provided,

and the author provides verbatim responses under either the "culturally near" or "culturally

distant" division, with the following topic headings: expectations of the U. S. and preparations for

change, aspects of identity, attitudes toward women at home and in the U. S., perception of wife-

changes/perception of husband-changes, response to the U.S. and vice versa, perception of the

U.S.'s place in the world, attitudes toward foreigners and racism, and the U.S.'s ability to change

attitudes toward foreign students' wives. The interpretations to be drawn from this study are

limited based on the lack of a rationale as to how these particular themes were chosen and/or if

they were derived directly from the data.










Support, Marital Satisfaction, and Psychological Distress, identifying cases whose residuals were

more than two standard deviations from the estimated line. Eight outlying cases were detected

and eliminated from the data set. As a result, normality for the Social Support measure was

established, while Psychological Distress (B SI) remained positively skewed and Marital

Satisfaction (RAS) remained negatively skewed. Following recommendations by Tabachnik and

Fidell (2000), the two variables Psychological Distress and Marital Satisfaction were log

transformed and the resulting adjusted variables were used in subsequent analyses. Correlations

between original and transformed variables (BSI adj. and RAS adj.) are shown in Table 4 2. In

turn, hierarchical multiple regression analyses were run with both transformed and non-

transformed variables. Results proved similar. Therefore, for practical purposes, interpretations

of beta coefficients will be possible, and results for transformed variables will be reported.

Notably, based on the log transformation, Marital Satisfaction scores were reversed; i.e., high

scores on Marital Satisfaction indicate high marital dissatisfaction. Interpretations of results and

discussion were rephrased accordingly.

Examination of Potential Covariates

In order to determine factors associated with dependent variables to be entered as potential

covariates into the regression equation, a series of tests on the effect of age, region of origin,

length of stay, and presence of children on the dependent variables Acculturative Stress, Social

Support, Marital Satisfaction, and Psychological Distress were performed, following Frazier, Tix

& Barron (2004) recommendations. First, to examine the association between spouses' age and

the four variables Acculturative Stress, Social Support, Marital Satisfaction, and Psychological

Distress, bivariate correlations between these factors were examined. Correlations between Age

and Acculturative Stress, Social Support, Marital Satisfaction, and Psychological Distress proved










employees due to their unique situation. Lack of work opportunities, no structure in daily

routines, loneliness, as well as resentment toward the move are among the adjustment issues the

author cites.

Similar circumstances and factors might easily hold true for international students and their

families while soj ourning in the United States; however, no empirical studies have been noted in

this area (Furnham, 2004). International students leave their familiar surroundings and start a

new, albeit temporary existence in the United States. With almost a quarter of international

graduate students being of married status, it is easy to imagine that the transition may be difficult

for all accompanying family members. While numerous studies have documented the challenges

that international students face upon arrival in a foreign host country, some authors point to the

fact that the cross-cultural adjustment of spouses may be even more difficult or challenging in its

own way (De Verthelyi, 1995). Evidently, while students find some continuity and a network of

colleagues, advisors, and mentors, their respective spouses may experience a strong disruption of

their personal and vocational life upon arrival. Similar to expatriate spouses, they also frequently

do not receive structural support for coping with the immediate demands of their new

surroundings (Ali, et al., 2003; De Leon & McPartlin, 1995; De Verthelyi, 1995; Yi, Lin, &

Kishimoto, 2003; Yoon & Portman, 2004). Further, in describing the counseling needs and

resources for international students, references have been made to the importance of paying

attention to the social network of international students, including the accompanying family

members (Chang, 2004; Furnham, 2004; Yi et al. 2003; Yoon & Portman, 2004).

Apart from one qualitative dissertation examining the marital relationship of four

Taiwanese international student couples in the United States, little attention has been given to

marital status of international students (Chang, 2004). Most recently, Poyrazli, Arbona,









the scale's items may not have tapped into the unique experience of spouses of international

students. Further, findings in the social support literature point to the fact that perceived

emotional support as opposed to social integration is related to better psychological adjustment.

Thoits (1995), for example, noted that "social integration does not buffer the physical or

emotional impacts of maj or life events or chronic difficulties in people's lives" but, on the other

hand, "perceived emotional support is associated directly with better physical and mental health"

(p. 64). The measure employed in this study asked respondents to indicate "if you know

persons) who would perform the behaviors described," with participants listing the number of

individuals such as "no one would do this," "someone would do this," etc. It is possible that the

ISSS measure (Ong & Ward, 2005) may not have adequately measured the construct of "level of

perceived social support" for the sample in this study. Thus, the number of individuals providing

support may not be equal to the level of social support obtained. It is possible that perceived

social support may be high due to a single person providing it (e.g., husband), where a single

person providing support would result in a low score on the ISSS social support measure. The

importance of a single individual's support can be substantiated by Snyder' s (1987) findings in a

sample of immigrant women. Emotional support from one' s partner was significantly negatively

related to depressive symptomatology whereas social support from outside sources was not. This

points to the weight of direct partner support as the most important contributor to the well-being

of accompanying spouses. Replication of the current study employing the ISSS social support

scale along with alternative measures of soj ourner social support in additional samples of

spouses of international students will therefore be necessary.

Despite the lack of a significant moderating effect, correlations between social support,

acculturative stress and psychological distress, respectively, confirmed the directions of









educational or occupational position (Church, 1982; Fumnham, 2004; Pedersen, 1991; Ward et al.

2001).

The maj ority of research on soj ourner adjustment has focused on international students and

business individuals alike, with a steady increase of publications in these areas over the past 30

years (Black, 1988; Church, 1982; 1990; Ward et al., 2001). While there is a significant lack of

empirical studies devoted to the well-being of spouses of international students, some attention

has recently been given to examining the determinants of intercultural adjustment among

expatriate spouses, i.e., husbands and wives of business people assigned to work abroad (Ali,

Van der Zee, & Sanders, 2003; Black & Gregersen, 1991). Several authors within the expatriate

literature have noted that the adaptation of expatriate business individuals seems to be affected

by the adaptation of their spouses to the foreign country, and negative adjustment among spouses

may in tumn have a diminishing impact on the expatriate's work performance during his or her

foreign assignment (Ali et al., 2003; De Leon & McPartlin, 1995; Solomon, 1996; Storti, 2001;

Takeuchi, Yun, & Tesluk, 2002). Black and Gregersen (1991) concluded that spousal adjustment

appears to be a crucial factor as to how successfully an expatriate carries out his or her global

work assignment. For example, Black and Stephens (1989) reported a strong correlation between

adjustment levels of expatriates and their spouses. The authors further discussed the negative

relationship between both partners' level of adjustment and the expatriates' intent to return home

prematurely. Similarly, Fukuda and Chun (1994) discussed a couple's family situation as one of

the aspects that determined failure among Japanese expatriates. Further, a study by Shaffer

(1996) showed that spousal adjustment had a moderating role in the relationship between

expatriates' intention to withdraw from the business assignment and their commitment to remain

in the position. Lastly, Storti (2001) noted that spouses have to adjust more than the expatriate









CHAPTER 3
METHOD

Participants

Participants included 142 female spouses of international students soj ouming in the United

States. Eight outliers were eliminated from the sample during the analysis stage of the proj ect

(see results section for explanation). Participants were solicited by a combination of email,

letters, and flyers sent to international student organizations and spouses' programs. Reminder

emails were sent 2 weeks after making first contact with the offices (see Appendices J-M). Data

collection took place between February and May 2007. In an effort to maximize participation in

this study, organizations and programs at universities with the largest number of international

students were targeted for potential participation (HIE, 2005). A total of 45 universities in 21 U.S.

states were included. Geographic distribution covered four maj or regional areas of the United

States, including West, Southeast, Northeast, and Midwest. International student administrative

offices, housing offices, and English language programs at these institutions were asked to

forward an email message to spouses of international students, either indirectly via international

student listsery or directly to addresses of spouses of international students. The letter of

solicitation contained an online link to the survey, which took approximately 20-30 minutes to

complete The link first led participants to the informed consent form (see Appendix B). They

were told that their participation was voluntary and that they would not receive compensation for

taking the survey.

Because the exact number of international student spouses was not known, and the survey

link could have been forwarded to other groups of international students spouses, as well, it is

impossible to determine the representativeness of the sample vis-a-vis the larger population. This

is a common qualification associated with Internet-based survey research. Intemet recruitment,











Table 4 2 Intercorrelations among primary variables
Variable 1 2 3 4 5
1. ASSIS -.24** -.20* -.25 -.17*
2. ISSS -.93** .94** .22**
3. ISSS-SE -.75** .22*
4. ISSS-I -.20*
5. RAS -
6. BSI
7. LRSS-C
8. LRSS-H
9. EF


6
.50**
-.24**
-.25**
-.20*
-.35**


7 8
.10 .18*
.00 .02
-.04 .02
.03 .01
-.13 .00
.03 .08
-.26**


9
-.32**
.07
.13
.00
.17
-.10
-.07


10
.18*
-.15
-.08
-.18*
-.11
.18*
.09
-.02
.07


11
.29**
-.06
-.08
-.04
-.26**
.29**
.24**
.15
-.04


12
.51**
-.26**
-.28**
-.21*
-.37**
.99**
.04
.09
-.12


13
.20*
-.21*
-.20*
-.19*
-.91**
.38**
.09
-.03
-.20*


10. ILS-FC .31** .18* .07
11. ILS-HAP .27** .22*
12. BSI adj .41**
13. MS adj
Note. N = 134; ** p < .01; p < .05; ASSIS = Acculturative Stress; ISSS = Index of Sojourner Social Support; ISSS-SE = Index of
Soj ourner Social Support Socio-Emotional; ISSS-I = Index of Sojourner Social Support Instrumental; RAS Marital Satisfaction;
O\ BSI Brief Symptoms Inventory (Psychological Distress); LRSS-C Life Role Saliency Scale Occupational Reward Value Scale
(Career); LRSS-H = Life Role Saliency Scale Homecare Role Reward Value Scale (Homemaker); EF = English Fluency; ILS-FC =
Index of Life Stress Financial; Concerns; ILS-HAP = Index of Life Stress Husband Academic Progress; BSI adj = transformed;
MS adj = transformed (negative).









EXPLORATORY STUDY OF DISTRESS AMONG SPOUSES OF INTERNATIONAL
STUDENTS





















By

MONIKA BIGLER


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2007










stressful circumstances of cultural transitions. Similarly, spouses' support groups may also be a

place for mutual support. In turn, spouses' programs are related to lower levels of acculturative

stress and thus may assist in offsetting some of the stressors that spouses experience during their

soj oumn.

Occupational and homemaker role reward value

The relationship between spouses' Occupational and Homemaker Role Reward Value and

psychological distress was examined. Occupational and Homemaker Role Reward Value

comprise tow of the subscales of the Life Role Salience Scales (LRSS; Amatea et al., 1986). No

relationship was found between the value that spouses attribute to the role of career and

homemaking and spouses' level of psychological distress.

Spouses may experience profound role changes during their soj ourn in the United States,

which in turn affects their career development. Several factors are likely contributing to shifts in

career-related identities, including visa restrictions allowing for no or limited work opportunities,

differences between home and foreign identities, financial dependence on partners, and change

from an active professional life to that of a more traditional homemaker (Chang, 2004; Day,

2003; De Verthelyi, 1995). Based on her qualitative study, De Verthelyi (1995) had concluded

that the amount of acceptance or rej section of spouses' traditional role as a homemaker during the

sojourn was related to spouses' psychological adjustment. Additional, alternative measures to

assess spouses' career orientation should be employed to further investigate issues related to

spouses' career development during their sojourn.

Moderator effects

Lastly, the potentially moderating effects of social support and marital satisfaction in the

link between English fluency, financial concern, and stress related to husband's academic

progress, and psychological distress were investigated. No moderator effects were detected in the










(ISSS) was investigated. The Number of Spouses' Programs was associated with higher levels of

Social Support, r(134) = .22, p < .05, i.e.; as the number of reported spouses' programs

increased, the level of perceived social support increased as well. In order to examine individual

relationships between the subscales Instrumental Support and Socio-Emotional Support of the

social support measure, separate correlations were investigated. The subscale of Instrumental

support was more highly associated with the Number of Spouses' Programs, r(134) = .23, p <

.01, than was Socio-Emotional Support, r(134) = .17, p <.05. Similarly, the Number of Spouses'

Programs reported was also associated with lower levels of Acculturative Stress, r(134) = -.21,

p< .05, but not with lower levels of Psychological Distress (r = .03).

Fourth, the relationship between Occupational Role Reward Value and Psychological

Distress, and Homemaker Role Reward Value and Psychological Distress were investigated.

Both Occupational Role Reward Value and Homemaker Reward Value were not significantly

correlated with Psychological Distress, r(134) = .03, ns, and r(134) = .08, ns.

Lastly, the potential moderating effect of Social Support and Marital Satisfaction in the

link between English Fluency, Financial Concern, Stress Related to Husband's Academic

Progress, and Psychological Distress were examined. Six separate hierarchical regression

analyses were performed to test for moderator effects. In each regression, main effects (i.e.,

English Fluency and Social Support, and English Fluency and Marital Dissatisfaction; Financial

Concern and Social Support, and Financial Concern and Marital Dissatisfaction; Husband

Academic Progress and Social Support, and Husband Academic Progress and Marital

Dissatisfaction) entered the regression equation as a block in the first step of the analyses. In the

next step, the two-way interactions English Fluency X Social Support and English Fluency X

Marital Dissatisfaction; Financial Concern X Social Support and Financial Concern X Marital



























Low High


150
140
v,130
S120
110
S100
S90



60
50


SHigh Marital
Dissatisfaction
SLow Marital
Dissatisfaction


Acculturative Stress



Figure 5 1 Predicted psychological distress means by acculturative stress and marital
dissatisfaction. Original BSI-scale.










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al. (2004) reported an overall internal consistency score of .96 after removing the three

psychoticism items. For the BSI, Derogatis and Melisartos (1983) reported test-retest reliabilities

ranging from .68 for the somatization dimension to .91 for phobic anxiety. Alpha coefficients

ranged from .71 for Psychoticism to .85 for depression. Derogatis and Melisartos (1983) also

reported evidence for the predictive and construct validity of the instrument. Further, Aroj an et

al. (1995) examined the internal consistency reliability of the BSI with Polish and Filipino

immigrants and concluded that the BSI demonstrated reliable and valid cross-cultural measure of

psychological distress. In the present study, the overall score was used to assess psychological

distress. Cronbach's alpha for the current study was .97.

In addition to utilizing the overall score of the BSI for data analyses, The Global Severity

Index (GSI) for the current sample was determined. The GSI is calculated by using the sums for

the nine symptom dimensions of the scale plus four additional items not included in the

dimension scores, divided by the total number of items that an individual responded to. The three

psychoticism items were not included in the present calculation. GSI scores in the current sample

ranged from 0.84 to 3.40 (M~= 1.75, SD = .59).

Additional Measures

Additional measures for analyses included: number of goals, simultaneous versus separate

arrival, decision-making, and presence of spouses program. These measures were assessed as

follows.

Number of Goals for the Sojourn

Number of goals for the soj ourn was assessed by asking participants to generate goals for

their soj ourn in addition to selecting from a list of presented goals. The list of presented goals

included (see Appendix A, Demographic Questionnaire): Raising Children, Learning English,









Dissatisfaction; Husband's Academic Progress X Social Support and Husband Academic

Progress X Marital Dissatisfaction were added separately into the equation.

In the first regression, a significant main effect was observed for Social Support, such that

Psychological Distress decreased as Social Support increased (P = -.25, p = .003). A main effect

for English Fluency was not found. The single main effect for Social Support accounted for

approximately 8% of the variance in Psychological Distress. The English Fluency X Social

Support interaction was not significant.

In the second regression analysis, a significant main effect was observed for Marital

Dissatisfaction, whereas a main effect for English Fluency was not found. Psychological Distress

increased as Marital Dissatisfaction increased (P = .40, p = .001). Marital Dissatisfaction

accounted for approximately 17% of the variance in Psychological Distress. The interaction

between English Fluency and Marital Dissatisfaction did not significantly qualify the main

effect.

The results for the third regression revealed a significant main effect for Social Support,

whereas a main effect for Financial Concern was not found. Psychological Distress decreased as

Social Support increased (P = -.24, p = .006). The single main effect for Social Support

accounted for approximately 9% of the variance in Psychological Distress. The interaction

between Financial Concern and Social Support did not significantly qualify the main effect.

The results for the fourth regression revealed a significant main effect for Marital

Dissatisfaction, such that Psychological Distress increased as Marital Dissatisfaction increased

(p = .40, p = .000). The main effect for Financial Concern was marginally significant, such that

when Financial Concern increases, Psychological Distress increases (P = .16, p = .054). The

main effects for Financial Concern and Marital Satisfaction accounted for approximately 19% of









CHAPTER 4
RESULTS

Preliminary and Descriptive Analyses

Regression Diagnostics

In order to test the main research question regarding the moderating effects of social

support and marital satisfaction in the link between acculturative stress and psychological

distress, hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted. Preceding the statistical

procedure for multiple regression, assumptions underlying linear regression models were tested.

These tests included data examination for multicollinearity, normality, linearity, and

homoskedasticity for the main variables Acculturative Stress (ASSIS), Social Support (ISSS),

Marital Satisfaction (RAS), and Psychological Distress (BSI).

Regression diagnostics revealed no significant concerns regarding multicollinearity, i.e.,

high correlation between the predictor variables Acculturative Stress (ASSIS), Social Support

(ISSS), and Marital Satisfaction (RAS) were not detected. Multicollinearity diagnostics produced

variance inflation factors (VIF) ranging from 1.003 to 1.063, and tolerance ranged from .941 to

.997. Values for VIF that exceed 10 and tolerance values less than .10 present cause for concerns

regarding multicollinearity (Bowerman & O'Connell, 1990; Myers, 1990). (Table 4 1 shows

VIF and Tolerance statistics for the four main variables Acculturative Stress, Social Support,

Marital Satisfaction, and Psychological Distress).

Examination of the normal probability plot of the regression standardized residuals of the

four primary variables Acculturative Stress, Social Support, Marital Satisfaction, and

Psychological Distress, indicated violations for normality for three of the four main scales used.

A test for skewness revealed that all but Acculturative Stress were significantly skewed.

Consequently, a casewise diagnostic was run for the main variables Acculturative Stress, Social












3 M ETHOD .............. ...............44....


Participants .............. ...............44....
Instrum ents .............. .. ...............47...

Demographic Questionnaire ................. ...............47.................
Acculturative Stress............... ...............47.

English Fluency ................. ...............49................
Financial Concerns ................. ...... .. ............4
Stress Related to Husband's Academic Progress .............. ...............50....
Occupational and Homemaker Role Reward Value ................. ................. ........ 50
Social Support .............. ...............51....
M arital Satisfaction .............. ...............52....

Psychological Distress............... ...............52
Additional Measures ................. .......... ...............53.......
Number of Goal s for the S oj ourn ................. ...............53.......... ...
Simultaneous versus Separate Arrival ......... ........_._._ ......... ............5
Decision-Making about Soj ourn ................. ...............54......___....
Presence of Spouses Programs .............. ...............54....

4 RE SULT S .............. ...............55....


Preliminary and Descriptive Analyses............... ...............55
Regression Diagnostics .............. ...............55...
Examination of Potential Covariates ................. ...............56................
Descriptive Statistics ................. ...............57...
Statistical Analyses and Test Hypotheses ................. ...............58........... ...
Primary Research Questions and Hypotheses .............. ...............58....
Testing for Moderator Effects .............. ...............58...
Hierarchical Multiple Regression Analysis............... ...............59
Secondary Research Questions and Hypotheses .............. ...............60....
Exploratory Research Questions .............. ...............61....

5 DI SCUS SSION ................. ...............73................


Goal s for the Study .............. ...............73....
Interpretations of Results ................. ...............74........... ....
Primary Research Questions............... ......... ........7
Acculturative stress and psychological distress ................... ...............74..
The moderating role of social support and marital satisfaction ............... ...............76
Social support and marital satisfaction: a comparison ................ ............. .......84
Secondary Research Questions............... ...............8
English fluency ................. ...............86........... ....
Financial concern .............. ...............87....
Husband academic progress ................ ...............88........... ....
Number of goals for the soj ourn ................. ...............89........... ..










English Fluency

Self-reported English Fluency was measured by using a combined score from the

following three questions, which were rated on a 5-point, Likert scale:

What is your current level of fluency in English?

How comfortable do you feel communicating in English?

How often do you communicate in English?

Scores on these measures range from 3 to 15, and higher scores are associated with greater

English language fluency. Answers range from "poor" to "very good." Similar methods of

assessing English language fluency have been reported previously in the literature (Barratt &

Huba, 1994; Constantine et al., 2004; Sodowsky & Plake, 1992; Yeh & Inoseh, 2003). Reported

Cronbach's alpha using this 3-item scale ranged from .78 to .84. Cronbach's alpha for the current

sample was .90.

Financial Concerns

Financial Concerns was explored by using an adapted subscale from the Index of Life

Stress measure (ILS; Yang & Clum, 1994). The ILS 31-item instrument was originally designed

to assess the level of stressful live events for Asian international students. Subscales include

financial concerns, language difficulty, perceived discrimination, cultural adjustment, and

academic pressure. Subscales for these five dimensions have 5 to 8 items. Participants rate the

items on a 4-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (never) to 4 (always). This instrument has been

employed by researchers with various international students' samples and demonstrated

satisfactory psychometric properties, e.g., with Taiwanese students (Chao, 1999), African, Asian,

and Middle Eastern international students (Misra et al., 2003). Construct and concurrent validity

for the overall measure has been reported and was satisfactory (Yang and Clum, 1994). Yang

and Clum (1994) also reported a 1-month test-retest reliability of .87. Internal consistency









students, expatriate social support systems, and immigrant women, and have largely established

the concept of social support as a buffer against stress and a positive correlate of emotional well-

being (Copeland & Norell, 2002; Lee et al., 2003; Misra et al., 2003; Poyrazli et al., 2004; Ward,

et al., 2001).

Accordingly, authors have pointed to the lack of social support as one of the biggest

challenges experienced by student sojourners (Hayes & Lin, 1994; Pedersen, 1991). During

cross-cultural transitions, the role of social support is particularly highlighted due to the fact that

established networks become long-distance and disrupted, and new ones are yet to be formed.

These changes can be especially challenging for spouses due to "competing family

responsibilities, social isolation, sociopolitical constraints, and changes in their social and/or

work status" (Copeland & Norell, 2002, p. 256). In Chang's (2004) study, interviewees reported

dissatisfaction with the quality of friendships with co-nationals they had formed, with one spouse

reporting to have become pregnant "in order to have some focus in her life here" (p. 235). The

author further observed that the lack of social obligations led to a stronger bond between

husband and wife, with spouses serving as their primary source of emotional support (Chang,

2004). Similarly, De Verthelyi (1995), Schwartz & Kahne (1993) and Vogel (1986) equally

noted the numerous challenges associated with social isolation that spouses of international

students are faced with during their soj oumn.

In addition, expatriate literature points to the importance of social networks for

accompanying spouses. For example, Copeland & Nevell (2002) showed that women with higher

adjustment were in more cohesive families, participated in the decision to relocate, perceived

less of a decrease in friendship networks, and had more functions of social support satisfactorily

met. Finally, they received more of their support from local rather than long-distance providers









Social support has been named as a buffer against stress, and previous research has established

social support as a positive correlate of emotional well-being in samples of both expatriate

spouses and international students (Copeland & Norell, 2002; Lee et al., 2003; Misra et al, 2003;

Poyrazli et al., 2004; Ward et al., 2001). In the current study, both the combined measure of

social support as well as individual subscales failed to moderate the relationship between

acculturative stress and psychological distress. Thus, social support did not qualify the

relationship between acculturative stress and mental health symptoms in our sample of spouses

of international students.

Previously, no studies had examined the role of social support in the context of spouses of

international students. In the current study, the lack of a moderating effect of social support may

be due to several factors. First, past studies have pointed to the relative importance of social

support as a coping strategy during cross-cultural transitions (e.g., Copeland & Norell, 2002; Lee

et al., 2003; Misra et al, 2003; Poyrazli et al., 2004). However, no research has empirically

explored the unique experience that spouses of international students may face in relation to the

disruption and re-establishment of their social network system. Whereas several authors have

pointed to the necessity of spouses programs to facilitate spousal adjustment, none of these

reports included empirical data on the effectiveness of support programs (e.g., Oj o, 1998;

Schwartz & Kahne, 1993; Vogel, 1985). Spouses of international students can be viewed as a

specific subgroup of international sojourners. Consequently, for spouses of international

students, social support, both instrumental and socio-emotional, may not represent a coping

strategy salient enough to offset the impact of acculturative stress and its effect on mental health

in the manner previously expected. Thus, even though the ISSS scale measured two distinct

qualitative components of sojourner social support, instrumental and socio-emotional support,










spouses' population. In order to assist spouses and international students alike, spouses should be

able to receive services both individually and as part of a couple.

Future Research

The goal of this study was to establish a basis for understanding the relationship between

stressors, stress buffers, and stress outcomes among spouses of international student spouses.

Due to the lack of previous empirical research with spouses of international students, the nature

of this study was exploratory. It is among the first studies to collect data from a sample of

spouses across the United States. Fowler and Silberstein (1989) noted that "although the field has

advanced its understanding of family dynamics, family stress, and coping, very few mental

health models are being applied specifically to the dynamics of families undergoing the stress of

relocation to a foreign environment" (p. 119). In order to broaden the understanding of

sojourning spouses, additional research comparable to the present study will be necessary.

Further research may include:

1. A replication of the present study with spouses of international students who are
accompanying their partners to the United States. This study collected data from female
spouses only. Future research may include a comparison of spouses' experience by gender
and comparison with non-intemnational students. Cross-cultural comparison, e.g., with
spouses soj ouming in Canada under different visa regulations, may also aid in
understanding the adjustment process of spouses of international students in the United
States.

2. A replication of the present study utilizing questionnaires that were translated into the main
languages of international student spouses' populations. This may ensure access to
segments of the spouses' population who were unable to complete the survey administered
in English.

3. A replication of the present study examining the relative contribution of marital
satisfaction and social support in samples of spouses and their international student
partners.

4. A replication of the present study employing a mixed method approach in order to identify
potential stressors and empirically validate stressors across a variety of international
student spouses' samples.










relationship between English fluency, financial concern, stress related to husband's academic

progress and psychological distress. Social support and marital satisfaction do not have a

buffering effect between these stressors and stress outcome.

Limitations

When interpreting the results of this study, the following limitations should be taken into

consideration. First, due to the correlational nature of the study, no conclusion as to the cause

and effect in the relationship between predictor and outcome variables can be made. Second,

participants were not randomly selected, and thus generalization of the present results is limited.

Third, the survey relied on self-report and answers may not accurately reflect spouses' level of

stressors, stress outcome, and stress buffers. Fourth, since participation occurred on a voluntary

basis, self-selection may have biased the results. Fifth, the survey was presented in English.

Spouses with inadequate English language skills may have been precluded from participating or

may have been reluctant to complete the survey. Whereas spouses who did take the survey

indicated their level of understanding in English, the current study was unable to determine how

many spouses did not participate or did not complete the questionnaire based on their English

language skills. Sixth, even though attempts were made to directly contact spouses, participant

recruitment often occurred indirectly via administrators and facilitators of international family

and spouses' programs, who may or may not have forwarded the recruitment information.

Similarly, the study attempted to reach spouses of international students via international student

email listserys, and partners may have been reluctant to forward the information, which in turn

may have biased the results.

Final Conclusions

This study confirmed the relationship between acculturative stressors and stress outcome

among a sample of spouses of international students, with acculturative stress serving as a









Table 4 1 VIF and tolerance statistics for predictor variables acculturative stress, social
support, and marital satisfaction in hierarchical multiple regression models
Model Collinearity Statistics
Tolerance VIF
Acculturation (ASSIS) .941 1.063
Social Support (ISSS) .941 1.062
Interaction (ASSIS X ISSS) .997 1.003

Acculturation (ASSIS) .959 1.043
Marital Satisfactiona (RAS) .958 1.044
Interaction (ASSIS X RAS) .996 1.004

Acculturation (ASSIS) .970 1.031
Marital Satisfactionb (RAS) .966 1.035
Interaction (ASSIS X RAS) .995 1.005
Note. Marital Satisfactiona = transformed variable; Marital Satisfactionb = non-transformed
variable.










time, husbands may need to put a considerable amount of effort into their academic training, and

may in tumn not be readily available. With a lack of alternative coping strategies at hand, spouses

high on acculturative stress and low on marital satisfaction may in turn be experiencing more

mental health problems.

Due to this study being cross-sectional, no evidence was gathered as to the pre-arrival

status of the marital relationship quality and its effect on post-arrival quality. Shao (2001)

indicated that the painful experience of adjustment may in turn have an effect on the marital

relationship. In this study, no conclusion can be drawn as to whether marital satisfaction changed

over the course of the cross-cultural transition, and whether it did so for the couple as a whole or

differently the individuals. In the future, longitudinal approaches to the study of marital

satisfaction of spouses and their partners may assist in examining the impact of cultural

transitions on soj ourning international student couples.

Social support and marital satisfaction: a comparison

Notably, whereas marital satisfaction did modify the relationship between acculturative

stress and psychological distress in this sample, social support did not. Even though interrelated,

marital satisfaction and social support appear to be two different factors, especially in the context

of a family's cross-cultural transition. Snyder (1987), for example, found that in a sample of

Mexican immigrant women, external social support was not related to depressive

symptomatology and acculturative stress, whereas internal social support (the perceived social

support from one's partner) was significantly related to depressive symptomatology, with less

internal social support predicting more depressive symptomatology. This distinction hints at the

role and importance of social support versus marital satisfaction in the cross-cultural transition.

Whereas marital satisfaction becomes an important contributor, social support in the form of a

social support network takes a secondary role. In a study by Poyrazli et al. (2004), married









was not significantly negatively correlated with Psychological Distress, r(134) = -. 10, ns.

Financial Concerns and Stress Related to Husband's Academic Progress were significantly

positively related to Psychological Distress, r(134) = .18, p < .05 and r(134) = .27, p < .01.

Results of a bivariate correlation also revealed that spouses' number of goals for the soj ourn was

not significantly negatively associated with psychological distress, r(133) = -.01, ns.

Exploratory Research Questions

A set of four exploratory research questions were examined. The first exploratory research

question investigated whether type of Arrival (simultaneous versus separate) was associated with

marital satisfaction, acculturative stress, or psychological distress. A set of independent t-tests

was run with the independent variable being Arrival (simultaneous versus separate) and the

dependent variables being Acculturative Stress, Marital Satisfaction, and Psychological Distress.

The t-tests yielded no significant main effects for Arrival (simultaneous versus separate), with

t(130) = 1.17, ns, for Acculturative Stress, t(129) = 1.32, ns, for Marital Satisfaction, and t(130)

= 0.38, ns, for Psychological Distress.

Second, type of Decision Making (husband versus j oint) in relation to spouses'

Acculturative Stress, Marital Satisfaction, and Psychological Distress was examined. A set of

independent t-tests was run with the independent variable being Type of Decision Making and

the dependent variables being Acculturative Stress, Marital Satisfaction, and Psychological

Distress. The results of the t-tests indicated no main effect for Type of Decision Making

(husband versus joint), for Acculturative Stress, t(1 18) = -1.81, ns, for Marital Satisfaction,

t(118) = 1.82, ns, and for Psychological Distress, t(118) = -1.74, ns.

Third, in order to examine the relationship between the number of spouses' programs

reported by participants at their husbands' home university and their perceived level of social

support, bivariate correlations between the Number of Spouses' Programs and Social Support









Social Support will have a moderating effect on the acculturative stress and psychological

distress relationship. Social support has shown to be a moderator in the link between stressor and

stress symptoms (Copeland & Norell, 2002; Jou & Foukada, 1997; Lee et al., 2004). It will thus

have a buffering effect on the relationship between acculturative stress and psychological

distress.

Marital Satisfaction will have a moderating effect on the relationship between

acculturative stress and psychological distress. Marital satisfaction was shown to be a buffer

between stress and depression (Sweatman, 1999). Thus, marital satisfaction will be moderating

the effects of acculturative stress on psychological adjustment.

Secondary Hypotheses

English Language Fluency will be significantly negatively related to psychological

distress. Lower English fluency has been found to be associated with greater levels of

acculturative stress and increased depressive symptomatology (Nwadiora & McAdoo, 1996;

Poyrazli et al., 2001; Snyder, 1987; Yang et al., 2005). Therefore, higher English fluency will

also likely be related to lower levels of psychological distress.

Financial Concerns will be significantly positively related to psychological distress.

Financial concerns have shown to be positively related to overall life stress (Misra et al., 2003).

Therefore, higher levels of financial concerns will also likely be related to higher levels of

psychological distress.

Stress related to husband 's academic progress will be significantly positively related to

psychological distress. Shao (2001) noted spouses' experience of grief and resentment due to

hypervigilance toward their husband's academic performance. Therefore, higher levels of stress

related to husband's academic progress will likely be related to higher levels of psychological

distress.









Bullinton, & Pisecco (2001) included marital status as a variable in their examination of

adjustment issues of Turkish college students in the U.S. The authors reported that marital status

was significantly related to perceived level of social support in their sample. Similarly, in their

survey of utilization by international students of counseling services at a maj or university in

Texas, Yi et al. (2003) found that 16.9% of participants indicated being married. In their survey,

"relationship with romantic partner" was listed as one of the top three concerns for international

graduate students among the participants.

Models of Adjustment in the Sojourn Literature

With a vast array of empirical studies on cross-cultural adjustment conducted in the past,

two theoretical approaches, the cultural learning approach and the stress and coping approach,

have become strongly established in the soj ourn literature and are broadly accepted as the

"guiding forces in the field" (Ward et al., p. 37). Ward and colleagues have made an effort to

bring together these two leading theoretical approaches in their research program and have

concluded that researchers ought to consider two separate outcomes to the acculturative process:

psychological and socio-cultural adjustment (Searle & Ward, 1990; Ward, 1996; Ward &

Kennedy, 1994). The authors have discussed that, despite being interrelated, these two models

are predicted by different variables and can be seen as conceptually distinct (Searle & Ward,

1990; Ward & Kennedy, 1994).

Cultural learning approach

The cultural learning approach specifies that adaptation occurs in the form of learning

culture-specific skills necessary to function in a new cultural environment from a mainly

behavioral viewpoint (Bochner, 1986; Furnham & Bochner, 1982). Consequently, socio-cultural

adjustment is influenced by culture contact variables such as the quantity and quality of contact

with hosts, as well previous cross-cultural experience and pre-arrival training (Searle & Ward,









CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF LITERATURE

This chapter provides an overview of topics in relation to the proposed study. The review

will cover literature on soj ourner adjustment in general and on spouse cross-cultural adjustment

in particular. Profiles of international students and spouses, as well as sources of spouses'

acculturative stress and psychological adjustment during the soj ourn in the United States will be

explored, along with English language fluency, financial concerns, and stress related to

husband's academic progress. Social support and marital satisfaction will be discussed in relation

to their role as possible moderators of stress on psychological adjustment.

Characteristics of Spouses of International Students

Definition

For the purpose of this study, spouses of international students are defined as married

partners of international students who have originally arrived in the United States under an F-2

or J-2 "dependent" visa and are current F-2 or J-2 visa holders. There are several possibilities as

to how student couples might arrive in the United States: First, a couple might be married in their

home country with one spouse coming to the United States with a student visa (F-1/J-1), while

the other arrives under a dependent visa (F-2/J-2), with partners arriving either simultaneously or

independently. Second, the couple arrives with both students having applied for student status

prior to arrival and thus both coming to the United States as international students (F-1/J-1). And

thirdly, international students (F-1/J-1) may meet their future spouse while residing in the United

States whereas the partner may or may not be an international student (Chang, 2004).

Due to their immigration status, F-2 visa holders are restricted from working and studying

in the United States, and they are allowed to volunteer only under limited circumstances (U. S.

Department of State, 2006). J-2 visa holders, on the other hand, are allowed to seek employment,









relationships in previous findings. (e.g., Poyrazli et al., 2004; Yeh & Inose, 2003). In the current

sample, social support was both negatively correlated with acculturative stress (r = -.24, p < .01)

and psychological distress (r = -.24, p < .01); i.e., higher levels of social support were related to

lower amounts of acculturative stress and to lower levels of psychological distress. Further, when

sub scales of the social support measures were considered, socio-emotional support was

somewhat less negatively correlated with acculturative stress (r = -.20, p < .05), than

instrumental support (r = -.25, p <.01), whereas the reverse was true for the relationship between

psychological distress and socio-emotional support (r = -.25, p < .01) and instrumental support (r

=-.20, p < .05). Socio-emotional support taps into an individual's perceived "emotional support

and social companionship" (Ong & Ward, 2005, p. 638-639), while instrumental support

includes "tangible assistance" and "informational support" (Ong & Ward, 2005, p. 639). Based

on hierarchical multiple regression analysis, Ong & Ward (2005) stated that in their examination,

instrumental support was more relevant to soj ourner psychological adaptation as measured by the

Zung Self-Rating Depression scale (Zung, 1965). In the present sample, instrumental support

was more closely associated with acculturative stress than with psychological distress, while the

reverse was true for socio-emotional support. The present findings point to the likelihood that

instrumental support may be more relevant in overcoming the challenges of acculturation

(sample items: "explain local culture," "deal with official rules and regulations," "make a

situation clearer"), whereas socio-emotional support may play an important role in stabilizing an

individual's emotional and psychological well-being (sample items: "share good and bad times,"

"listen and talk with you whenever you feel lonely and depressed"). This finding also supports

the assertion by Thoits (1995) and Cohen & Wills (1985) that emotional support is more closely

related to psychological well-being than actual social integration. Moreover, the findings of the










ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I extend my deepest gratitude to my chair, Dr. Greg J. Neimeyer, and to the members of

my supervisory committee (Dr. Ken Rice, Dr. Mary Fukuyama, Dr. Jeff Farrar, and Dr.

Churchill Roberts) for guiding me through the process of completing this study, for their

experience, wisdom, sincere support and keen mentoring. I also would like to thank the staff of

the Psychology Department at the University of Florida, in particular Mr. Jim Yousse, Mr.

Michael LeGrande, Ms. Sarah Lee, and Ms. Amanda Foote, for their technical and administrative

assistance. Further, I would like to thank all of those who have helped me along the way, for

their inspiration, guidance, and solidarity. I especially would like to thank Dr. W. Keith Berg, Dr.

Kathrin Fenner, Dr. Cynthia Fuller, Dr. Susanna Gallor, Ms. Olga Kostromytska, Dr. James

Lyda, Dr. Viktor Mergel, Mr. Jeff Rosier, and Dr. Denise Wyttenbach, and the women who

participated in this study for assisting me in the process of completing this work. I also would

like to thank Ms. Donna Bierbach, Dr. Matthias Daniel Caraco, Dr. Chun-Chung Choi, Dr.

James Deyrup, Ms. Maude (Sheila) Fraser, Dr. LaTrelle Jackson, Dr. Mirka Koro-Ljunberg, Dr.

Heidi Levitt, Dr. Anca Mirsu-Paun, Dr. Lauren Pasquarella Daley, Mr. Scott Coleman Miller,

Mr. John Petrocelli, Ms. Leslie A. Owen, Ms. Lou Powers, Ms. Sarah Prior, Ms. Leticia Solaun,

Dr. Salina Renninger, Mr. Micha Schiwow, Dr. Herb Steier, Dr. Howard E.A. (Tony) Tinsley,

Ms. Jean Underwood, the Documentary Institute faculty, Dr. Sandra Dickson, Ms. Cynthia Hill

and Ms. Carla Pilson, as well as Billy, Isabelle, and Mercury Bigler for their past and present

support. Finally, and most importantly, my most sincere gratitude is extended to Ms. Barbara

Stiirm, whose contributions made this proj ect possible.









social support. The author interviewed 49 spouses from 26 countries using semi-structured

interviews. The research design is described as using "insider knowledge" (p. 391) and choosing

a "naturalistic inquiry (...) to best unveil the nature, essences, characteristics, and meanings of

phenomena as fully and completely as possible and within a particular context" (as cited in

Leininger, 1992, p. 403). The results are presented as "non-overlapping" codes and verbatim

quotes to illustrate the different themes that emerged (De Verthelyi, 1995, p. 392).

De Verthelyi (1995) observed initial adjustment difficulties for spouses including feelings

of sadness, loneliness, self-doubt, confusion, and frustration. The author also discussed the

spouses' language difficulties, financial problems, and social isolation, including missing family

and friends and feeling guilty for living abroad. The author further points to the spouses' gender

role orientation and in particular work and family significance influencing the degree of culture

shock: "The degree of acceptance, or rej section, of the more traditional role as a homemaker (and

mother) during the stay was the most important variable affecting the psychological well-being

of the spouses" (p. 404). De Verthelyi also states that a large proportion of interviewed spouses

showed great resiliency in overcoming initial adjustment problems, usually within a time span of

3-6 months. Further, since spouses' soj ourns often do not have specific tasks outlined for them,

personal satisfaction with the stay depended on the wives' achievement of goals in relation to a

personal proj ect and the degree of flexibility in finding alternative solutions. Drawing from her

sample, the author cautions that "there is (...) no such thing as the foreign student's spouse,"

since "spouses' needs and expectations, as well as proj ects for the soj ourn are very dissimilar and

not prescribed by the role itself" (p. 403). She states that personal variables over situational

factors appear to influence the well-being of the spouses and their adjustment to the host culture.

And finally, the author concludes that "experiencing psychological well-being resulted from the









current study lend support to Ong & Ward's (2005) notion that socio-emotional support and

instrumental support can be viewed as different but related constructs (2005).

On the other hand, a quantitative measure of soj ourner social support, such as provided by

the ISSS scale (Ong & Ward, 2005), may not adequately measure perceived social support for

spouses of international students. Dependent on the soj ourner' s role, the quality of a close and

supportive relationship with one' s partner may become more salient, as the unit of the soj ourning

couple may find itself isolated from immediate social support, and long distance support may not

adequately provide the coping needs in the adjustment situation. In comparison, individual

soj ourners, e.g., unaccompanied international students, may be more reliant on finding a support

network in the host culture. Future research should aim to distinguish between various soj ourner

roles and the type of social support needed by each group.

Marital satisfaction. Similarly, it was hypothesized that marital satisfaction would exhibit

a moderating effect in the link between acculturative stress and psychological distress. Marital

satisfaction was assessed through the Relationship Assessment Scale (RAS), a self-report

measure of relationship satisfaction (Hendrick, 1988). Due to data transformation in the analysis

phase of this study, marital satisfaction scores were reversed. Therefore, and in order to be

consistent with the report on the data analyses, the term "marital dissatisfaction" will be used if

appropriate for subsequent discussions (see chapter 4).

As predicted, marital dissatisfaction exhibited a significant moderating effect in the link

between acculturative stress and psychological adjustment. Therefore, the positive relationship

between levels of acculturative stress and psychological distress was qualified by the presence or

absence of marital dissatisfaction (see Figure 5 1). At high levels of acculturative stress, both

high and low marital dissatisfaction qualified the effect of acculturative stress on psychological









(Poyrazli et al., 2004; Yeh & Inoseh, 2003), general well-being (Chao, 1999), and a combination

of affective, behavioral, and cognitive reactions (Misra et al., 2003).

Authors have also emphasized the distinction between an earlier, medical model of cross-

cultural transition and the stress and coping model (Furnham & Bochner, 1982; Ward et al.,

2001; Yoon & Portman, 2004). While the medical view presupposes the outcome of cultural

transition as unavoidably negative and pathological, the stress and coping approach

acknowledges the presence of stressors yet emphasizes possible coping mechanisms. Further, the

stress and coping approach conceptualizes the transition from a more social perspective, i.e., it

takes socio-cultural and interpersonal factors such as social support into account (Ward et al.,

2001).

Literature further suggests that soj ourner psychological adjustment takes the shape of a U-

curve (Church, 1982; Lysgaard, 1955), where an initial short, up to 6-month, period of

excitement ("honeymoon stage") is followed by a 6-18-month phase characterized by adjustment

difficulties ("culture shock/di sillusionment stage"). Finally, after developing the skills to cope

with these difficulties, soj ourners, according to this model, reach a final stage of positive

adjustment ("adaptation stage") (Church, 1982; Ward et al., 2001). There has been evidence both

in favor and against the U-curve hypothesis (Kealey, 1989; Ward & Kennedy, 1996). Ward et al.

(2001) contend that the U-curve hypothesis has been applied frequently despite evidence against

its accuracy, and conclude that its heuristic appeal has led researchers to adopt this model despite

the controversy surrounding it. For example, Ward and Kennedy (1996) employed a longitudinal

design by testing and interviewing Malaysian and Singaporean students at arrival, after 6

months, and after 12 months of their stay in New Zealand. The authors found that the students'

adjustment followed a U-curve opposite of the one proposed by Lysgaard (1955). The authors










Meichenbaum, E. (1985). Stress inoculation training. New York,NY: Pergamon Press.

Mendenhall, M., & Oddou, G. (1985). The dimensions of expatriate acculturation.
Academy of2anagentent Review, 10, 39-47.

Misra, R., Crist, M., & Burant, C. J. (2003). Relationships among life stress, social support,
academic stressors, and reactions to stressors of international students in the United
States. hIternational Journal ofStress Ma'~nagement, 10(2), 137-157.

MIT International Scholars Office (2007, August 15,). Work permission for J-2 dependents.
Retrieved from: http://web.mit. edu/scholars/j 2.html.

Mori, S. (2000). Addressing the mental health concerns of international students. Journal of
Counseling & Development, 78(2), 137-144.

Myers, R. H. (1990). Detecting and combating naulticollinearity: Classical and modern
regression (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Duxbury Press.

National Center for Education Statistics (2004). Digest of Education Statistics Tables
and Figures 2004. Retrieved March 3, 2006, from
http://nces. ed.gov/programs/digest/d04/tables/dt04_270ap

Nwadiora, E., & McAdoo, H. (1996). Acculturative stress among Amerasian refugees: gender
and racial differences. Adolescence, 31(122), 477-487.

Oh, Y., Koeske, G.F., & Sales, E. (2002). Acculturation, stress and depressive symptoms
among Korean immigrants in the United States. Journal of Social Psychology,
142(4), 511-526.

Oj o, P. (1998, November). A model conanunityprogramn to acclintate spouses of
international university students. Paper presented at a roundtable session of the
International Meeting of ASHE The Association for the Study of Higher
Education, Miami, FL.

Ong, A.S.J., & Ward, C. (2005). The construction and validation of a social support
measure for soj ourners: The Index of Social Support (ISSS) Scale. Journal of
Cross-Cultural Psychology, 36(6), 63 7-661 .

Pedersen, P.B. (1991). Counseling international students. The Counseling Psychologist, 19, 10-
58.

Poyrazli, S., Arbona, C., Bullington, R., & Pisecco, S. (2001). Adjustment issues of
Turkish college students studying in the United States. College Student Journal,
35, 52-62.










4. Connecting international student spouses via a separate listsery may assist in

establishing a sense of community and connection to the university. The listsery could connect

spouses to the university by disseminating information about events. It may also serve to provide

tips and assistance among its members. A number of private and state universities have

successfully initiated listsery and spouses' and partner programs, including MIT, Harvard, Yale,

and UC Berkeley.

5. Spouses of international students may be reluctant to seek counseling. Therefore,

international families could be provided with information about the nature and process of

counseling. Outreach activities by counseling centers to disseminate information about the nature

and purpose of counseling could be included with the provision of services by international staff

members.

6. Spouses' programs may address the career role changes that spouses undergo by

providing career planning courses geared toward this population. Spouses on J-2 dependent visas

may benefit from learning about job search strategies and practice interviewing techniques to

enter the United States job market. Spouses on visas that prohibit them from working in the

United States may be assisted by long-term career planning resources that would allow for them

to create and integrate activities during their soj ourn (e.g., volunteering and skill-enhancing

activities). In order to do so, spouses should be eligible to receive services at campus career

centers as part of their husband' s academic training. Similarly, career services for spouses could

be offered through international student offices.

7. Spouses may experience limited access to university counseling centers. Most university

counseling centers offer services solely to registered, full-time students, which excludes the









According to Thoits (1995), "stress" or "stressors" are any environmental, social, or

internal demands that require an individual to adapt his or her behavior. The literature identifies

three maj or ways of conceptualizing stressors: life events, chronic strains and daily hassles.

Apart from the cultural relocation counting as a maj or life event, spouses of international

students also face several chronic strains involved with their relocation from a home country,

adjusting to a new physical and social environment, and the challenges that arise from their

specific situation, including their inability to work or study (De Verthelyi, 1995).

In the stress literature, social support is commonly conceptualized as a coping resource,

i.e., a "social fund" people may access when confronting stressors (Thoits, 1995, p. 64). It is

usually defined as supportive functions performed for the individual by significant others such as

family members, friends, and colleagues (Thoits, 1995). Reviews of the literature show that

perceived emotional support is associated with increased physical and psychological well-being

and normally buffers the harmful impacts of maj or life events and chronic strains on physical

and mental health, while social integration, i.e., the actual support network, does not (Cohen &

Wills, 1985; Thoits, 1995).

Authors have also discussed the complexity of stress-related outcomes, including mental

and physical health symptoms (Aneshensel, 1992; Holmes & Rahe, 1967; Thoits, 1995). A

variety of outcome measures have been used to assess the adjustment of soj ourners. Aspects of

psychological well-being and satisfaction have been shown to be central to most of the models

proposed in the cross-cultural adaptation literature, and they have included measures of

depression (Constantine, Okazaki, & Utsey, 2004; Rahman & Rollock, 2004; Searle & Ward,

1990; Ward & Kennedy, 1994), suicide ideation (Yang & Clum, 1995), acculturative stress












APPENDIX E
PARTICIPANT FLYER


To Spouses and Families of
International Students


I AM LOOKING FOR YOUR HELP WITH MY RESEARCH


+ What is Important to spouses of international students?

+ How do spouses experience life in the USA?

My name is Monica Bigler, and I am an international student at the University of Florida
where I am completing my doctoral degree in the Counseling Psychology Department. I
came to the US as a spouse of an international student myself and have been an
international student since 1998.

I am conducting a research project on the experience of spouses of international students
The goal of the study is to find out how spouses experience their stay in the US and how
it could be made better.

If you are a spouse of an international student, you can participate in this research project
by completing an on-line survey at:

http://survey.psych .ufl.edulbigler/

If you are an international student and study in the United States with your family, please
pass this flyer along to your spouse. THANK YOU!


For more information.
please contact:

Monica Bigler

(352) 359-0322


Approved by
University of Florida
Institutional Review Board 02
Protocol # 2006-U-0631
For Use Through 07/10/2007


,,














2.25

m1 2.1

s 7 .9 High Marital
1.8 Dissatisfa tion
0~1.8Dissatisfaction

1.65

1.5
Low High
Acculturative Stress


Figure 4 1 Predicted psychological distress means by acculturative stress and marital
di ssati sfacti on.










(Copeland & Nevell, 2002). Some of these results mirror studies with international students,

which examined the relative merit of co-national versus host national support. Surdam and

Collins (1984), for example, described that student sojourners' nearly exclusive socialization

with other international students was associated with poorer adjustment outcomes. Research also

points to the fact that developing social relationships with host nationals appears to assist in the

adjustment process (Abe, Talbot, and Geelhoed, 1998; Poyrazli et al., 2004).

Extending the concept of social support to include computer-mediated communication

technology, recent studies have begun to examine the role of online tools for international

students and their spouses during their cross-cultural transition (Bennett, 2002; Cemalcilar,

Falbo, & Stapleton, 2005). Studies on the use of the Internet have shown that

cybercommunication is often a tool to uphold a remote social network and remain in touch with

friends and family (Kraut et al., 1998). According to the model of Cemilcilar et al. (2005) model,

the maintenance of contact has a positive effect on the international students' home identity and

perceived social support, which in turn contribute to the adaptation to the new culture. Similarly,

Bennett (2002) examined the effect of electronic communication on culture shock of spouses of

international students. Results indicated that spouses' well-being improved over time and the

author reported significant findings for phone, web phone, chat, and email use predicting culture

shock (Bennett, 2002).

Notably, a study with married Mexican immigrant women found a strong positive

relationship between women's acculturative stress and depressive symptomatology, whereas,

three single item-responses tapping into the women's perceived overall social support

(emotional, economical, and practical) were not related to either acculturative stress or

depressive symptomatology (Snyder, 1987). One item, women's perceived support from their









Statistical Analyses and Test Hypotheses

Primary Research Questions and Hypotheses

The primary research questions addressed the relationship between Acculturative Stress,

Financial Concerns, Stress Related to Husband' s Academic Progress, and Goals for the Soj ourn

and Psychological Distress. Further, the moderating effect of Social Support and Marital

Satisfaction in the link between Acculturative Stress and Psychological Distress were examined.

For the present sample, Acculturative Stress (ASSIS) was significantly positively related to

Psychological Distress (BSI), r(134) = .51, p<.01.

Testing for Moderator Effects

Separate hierarchical regression analyses were conducted following the standard

procedures outlined by Cohen and Cohen (1983). To test the hypothesis regarding the

moderating role of Social Support and Marital Satisfaction in the link between Acculturative

Stress and Psychological Distress, suggestions by Baron and Kenny's (1986), and Frazier et al.

(2004) regarding the use of hierarchical multiple regression analyses to test for moderator effects

were followed. Procedures for analyzing and interpreting the interaction terms, recommended by

Aiken and West (1991), were employed. All predictor variables were centered following Aiken

and West' s (1991) recommendations to reduce multicollinearity between the interaction terms.

Consequently, mean deviation scores were calculated before creating multiplicative interaction

terms (Aiken & West, 1991; Cohen, Cohen, West, & Aiken, 2003).

In addition, and for exploratory purposes, separate hierarchical regression analyses were

conducted to test the potential moderating role of Social Support and Marital Satisfaction in the

link between English Fluency, Financial Concern, Stress Related to Husband's Academic

Progress and Psychological Distress. All predictor variables were centered, and standard










Black, S.J., & Gregersen, H.B. (1991). The other half of the picture: Antecedents of
spouse cross-cultural adjustment. Journal oflnternational Business Studies,
22(3), 461-477.

Bochner, S. (1986). Coping with unfamiliar cultures: Adjustment or culture learning?
Australian Journal ofPsychology, 38, 347-3 58.

Bowerman, B.L., & O'Connell, R.T. (1990). Linear statistical models: An applied
approach (211d ed.). Belmont, CA: Duxbury.

Bradley, G. (2000). Responding effectively to the mental health needs of international
students. Higher Education, 39, 417-433.

Caligiuri, P. M., Hyland, M.M., Joshi, A., & Bross, A.S. (1998). Testing a theoretical model for
examining the relationship between family adjustment and expatriates' work adjustment.
Journal ofApplied Psychology, 83(4), 598-614.

Cemalcilar, Z., Falbo, T., & Stapleton, L.M. (2005). Cyber-communication: A new
opportunity for international students' adaptation? hIternational Journal of
Intercultural Relations, 29, 91-110.

Chang, H. (2004). Marital relationships in Taiwanese international students: A qualitative
approach (Chinese). Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities
and Social Sciences, Vol 64(12-A), pp. 4367.

Chao, H. (1999). Self-regulating care behavior and other factors influencing general well-
being of Taiwanese students in the United States. Dissertation
Abstracts International Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, Vol
60(5-B), pp. 2060.

Choi, M. (1997). Korean students in Australian universities: Intercultural issues.
Higher Education Research and Development, 16, 263-282.

Church, A.T. (1982). Sojourner adjustment. Psychological Bulletin, 91, 540-572.

Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.) Hillsdale, NJ:
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Cohen, J., & Cohen, P. (1983). Applied multiple regression correlation analysis for the
behavioral sciences (211d ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Cohen, J., Cohen, P., West, S.G., & Aiken, L. S. (2003). Appliednaultiple
regression correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences (3rd ed.). Mahwah, NJ:
Lawrence Erlbaum.









families because it occurs in the context of cross-cultural adjustment (Furnham & Bochner,

1986; Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1994). International students, along with their spouses, often lack

personal resources, such as a larger social network, when they arrive in the United States and

consequently experience greater difficulty acculturating than established ethnic minority

immigrants (Berry & Kim, 1988; Hayes & Lin, 1994). In addition, international students and

their family members may also refuse to seek proper psychological assistance due to cultural

differences in their views on the helpfulness of counseling and mental health services (Bradley,

2000; Mori, 2000; Pedersen, 1991).

Language fluency

Numerous authors have pointed to the essential role that language competence plays in

intercultural communication, with host language skills counting as a crucial tool for satisfying

everyday needs (Kim, 1988; Mori, 2000). Further, fluency in the host culture's language has

shown to be strongly linked to positive cross-cultural adjustment in international student samples

(Lin & Yin, 1997; Mori, 2000; Poyrazli et al., 2001; Yang, Noels, & Saumure, 2005; Yeh &

Inoseh, 2002). International students' academic progress and success is largely dependent on

their mastery of the English language, with pre-arrival tests (TOEFL) and post-arrival programs

in place in order to guarantee satisfactory language comprehension and fluency for the purpose

of completing academic degrees and involvement in research and teaching (Koyama, 2005).

Relatedly, in a sample of Mexican immigrant women, Snyder (1987) found a positive

relationship between depressive symptomatology and lack of verbal proficiency in English.

Successful integration upon immigration to the United States, including professional

advancement, may be dependent on English language skills, and the lack thereof may thus

impede positive adjustment.










Table 4 6 Hierarchical regression summary of psychological distress regressed onto
acculturative stress and social support
Step/Predictor R2 R2 B SEB P
Step 1 .28* .28*
Acculturative Stress .00 .00 .48*
Social Support .00 .00 -.15**
Step 2 .00. .01
Acculturative Stress .00 .00 .47*
Social Support .00 .00 -.15**
Acculturative Stress x Social Support .00 .00 .01
Note. *p <.001; **p = .06.









the variance in Psychological Distress. The interaction between Financial Concern and Marital

Dissatisfaction did not significantly qualify the main effect.

The results for the fifth regression analysis revealed significant main effects for Stress

Related to Husband's Academic Progress and Social Support, such that Psychological Distress

increased as Stress Related to Husband's Academic Progress increased (P = .27, p = .002) and

Psychological Distress decreased as Social Support increased (P = -.24, p = .004). These main

effects accounted for approximately 13% of the variance in Psychological Distress. No

significant interaction between Stress Related to Husband's Academic Progress and Social

Support was found.

The results for the sixth regression analysis yielded main effects for Stress Related to

Husband's Academic Progress and Marital Dissatisfaction such that Psychological Distress

increased as Stress Related to Husband' s Academic Progress increased (P = .20, p = .015), and

Psychological Distress increased as Marital Dissatisfaction increased (P = .36, p = .0001). These

main effects accounted for approximately 20% of the variance in Psychological Distress. No

significant interaction between Stress Related to Husband's Academic Progress and Marital

Dissatisfaction was found.











3 Making Friends 7 I have no ga
4 Going to 8 Other:
University

If you chose more than one goal above, please indicate your top choices:


What is your husband's area of study?
1 Business and 41 Physical and Life
Mnement Sciences
2 Math/Computer 5 Social Sciences
Sciences
3 Engineering 16 Other:


What type of university does your husband study at?
1. private
S2 state

Please estimate the total number of student enrollment at your husband's university:
Below 10,000
10-20,000
20 30,000
30-40,000
above 40,000

On a scale of 1 to 10, how easy or hard was it for you to understand the English in this survey? (easy = I
understood everything; hard = I had a lot of difficulty understanding the language in this survey)









the soj ourn as F-2 or J-2 visa holders if they can document a legal marriage between members of

the opposite sex. Girlfriends/boyfriends, fiancees, same-sex partners (even if in a marriage

legally recognized in other countries), or common-law (i.e., unmarried) living arrangements are

not recognized as being eligible for a dependent status by United States government agencies

(U. S. Department of State, 2006). It is noteworthy that F-2 visa holders are unable to seek work

or enroll as degree-seeking students. Similarly, they may volunteer only if the position in which

they are interested in has always been a volunteer position, and always will be. Evidently, their

stay in the U. S. is entirely dependent on that of the principal alien. If the F-1 student leaves the

country, even for an extended vacation term, the F-2 individual must leave as well. Similarly, J-2

dependents are not allowed to seek employment that has the potential to financially support the

primary visa holder (U.S. Department of State, 2006).

Previously, a limited number of qualitative studies have investigated issues surrounding

the soj ourn of international student spouses. Some of the topics addressed were pre-arrival

dimensions and early adjustment processes (De Verthelyi, 1995), adjustment difficulties and

support for foreign student wives in university settings (Schwarz & Kahne, 1993; Vogel, 1986),

the description of a model community program to acclimate spouses of international students

(Ojo, 1998), marital relationships of Taiwanese couples during their sojourn (Chang, 2004), and

Chinese wives' perceptions of their lives in the U.S. (Lo, 1993; Shao, 2001). Despite these

authors' descriptions of great variability among spouses, with some individuals experiencing

easier adaptation and a more relaxed lifestyle in their new role than in their home country,

investigators have unanimously underscored the oftentimes challenging tasks accompanying

spouses may face when following their partners abroad. Some of these challenges include

acculturative stress (e.g., homesickness/loneliness, ethnic/racial discrimination, stress due to









In a qualitative study on Chinese wives' perceptions of their life in the U. S. during the

period of their husbands' doctoral study, Shao (2001) describes issues related to the spouses'

expectations before arrival, language barriers, financial considerations, redefinition of goals,

career changes, marital satisfaction, and effect of separation before reunion. The author

interviewed five wives of doctoral students in the United States, employing semi-structured, in-

depth interviews. Interviews were conducted in Chinese and then translated. In her attempt to

describe the adaptation process of the five women, the author emphasized the positive effect of

spouses ultimately attending school in the United States with the result of smoother functioning

of their marriage. Further, the author underlined the negative impact that the dependent role of

the spouses had in relation to their career aspirations. Limiting the interpretability of her study,

Shao (2001) does not provide a rationale for either the composition of her interview questions or

her data analysis.

In contrast to interviewing individual spouses, Chang (2004) focused on marital

relationships of four Taiwanese student couples. In-depth interviews conducted with both

partners provided information about how the couples made sense of their experiences and the

strategies they employed in dealing with their cross-cultural situation. Using a narrative analyses

method, Chang (2004) identified psychosocial and acculturation impacts on the marital

relationships of the couples. Several themes emerged as part of the psychological effects

(psychosocial impacts): change of lifestyle; sense of emptiness; anxiety, and insecurity;

independence from home families; lack of social resources; and spending more quality time with

their significant other. Level of acculturation was seen as a positive force on the marital

relationship when both spouses were at the same level. In case of discrepancy, however,

acculturation caused conflict and decreased marital satisfaction among the couple (Chang, 2004).










responses was as follows: 54.5% (1), 20.9% (2), 6.8% (3), 3% (4), 1.5% (5), 4.5% (6), 4.5% (7),

1.5% (8), 0.7% (9), 0.7% (10). These numbers have to be interpreted with caution, however. No

data was collected as to the number of respondents who failed to complete the survey. It is

possible that respondents with insufficient English proficiency may have not completed the

survey, which in turn may have bias the results (see also limitations in discussion section).

Instruments

Participants completed a demographic questionnaire, measures of acculturative stress,

English fluency, Einancial concern, stress related to husband's academic progress,

occupational/homemaker role reward value, social support, marital satisfaction, and

psychological adjustment.

Demographic Questionnaire

Participants were asked to complete a demographic questionnaire in which they identified the

following demographic variables: age, gender, legal home country, ethnicity/race, U.S. state they

currently live in, visa type, native languagess, highest level of education, month/year of

marriage, arrival date, husband's arrival date, and number of children living in the U.S. A

number of additional, exploratory questions were posed as well (see Appendix A). Items

addressed areas such as the decision to come to the U. S., desirability of the move, career/j ob

experience before moving to the U.S., services for spouses provided by husband's university,

personal goals during stay in the U. S., husband' s area of study, type of university, and university

size. Spouses further indicated their perceived ease or difficulty in taking the survey based on

their level of English language proficiency.

Acculturative Stress

The Acculturative Stress Scale for International Students (ASSIS) was developed to

measure intrapersonal acculturative stress of international students (Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1994).










were solicited by a combination of email, letters, and flyers sent to international student

organization and programs at 45 U.S. universities with the largest number of international

students.

Results of hierarchical regression analyses revealed a positive relationship between

acculturative stress and psychological distress. High and low levels of marital satisfaction

moderated the relationship between acculturative stress and psychological distress while social

support did not. Results of exploratory research questions showed, among others, a positive

relationship between the amount of spouses' support programs offered by their husbands'

universities and spouses' levels of perceived social support. Results are addressed by discussing

challenges faced by spouses of international students, the role of marital relationship as well as

the necessity and nature of programs offered to spouses and international couples during their

soj ourn.









LRSS is a 40-item measure designed to assess personal expectations concerning occupational,

marital, parental, and homecare roles.

The Occupational Role Reward Value Scale and the Homecare Role Reward Value Scale

consist of five statements each, indicating a high personal value that the individual assigns to

involvement in an occupational or homecare role. Participants respond on a five-point Likert

scale (1 = "disagree" and 5 = "agree"), how much they agree with the statements (e.g., "having a

career/j ob that is interesting and exciting to me is my most important goal," and "it is important

to me to have a home of which I can be proud of"). Scores for each subscale range from 5 to 25,

with a higher score indicating higher personal value assigned to that role. Internal consistency

estimates for the scales were reported by the authors at .86 for the Occupational Role Reward

Value, and at .82 for the Homecare Role Reward value. Test-retest reliability for the total scale

was .75 (Amatea et al., 1986). College student and working adult populations participated in the

validity and reliability studies for the LRSS (Amatea et al., 1986). In the current study,

coefficient alphas for the two subscales were calculated. Cronbach's alpha for Occupational Role

Reward Value was .72, and .82 for Homecare Role Reward Value, respectively.

Social Support

The Index of Sojourner Social Support (ISSS; Ong & Ward, 2005) was developed to

measure the availability of social support along two distinct factors, socio-emotional and

instrumental support. The scale consists of 18 items: 9 items comprising the socio-emotional

support and 9 items comprising instrumental support. Respondents indicate whether there are

persons (no one, someone, a few, several, many) who would provide a range of supportive

behaviors. Overall scores range from 18 (low perceived social support) to 90 (high perceived

social support). Research with samples of student and adult soj ourner samples in Singapore and

New Zealand showed the ISSS to possess adequate and stable construct validity and scale









distress. That increase was not as marked for low marital dissatisfaction. At high acculturative

stress levels, the difference between high and low marital dissatisfaction accounted for 26 points

on the BSI scale, which is nearly one standard deviation, whereas at low acculturative stress

level, the difference was 10 points on the BSI scale (.33 standard deviations). In other words, at

high levels of acculturative stress, high marital dissatisfaction exacerbated the effects of

acculturative stress on psychological distress. Similarly, at high levels of acculturative stress, low

marital dissatisfaction attenuated the effect of acculturative stress on psychological distress. The

spread between individuals experiencing high or low levels of marital satisfaction is of practical

importance. Thus, individuals who report high marital dissatisfaction (low marital satisfaction)

tend to score higher on psychological distress at high acculturative stress levels, while

individuals with low marital dissatisfaction (high marital satisfaction) tend to score lower on

measures of psychological distress at high acculturative stress levels.

The finding points to the relevance of marital satisfaction as a salient factor in the cross-

cultural adjustment experience of spouses of international students. It also establishes marital

satisfaction as a moderator in the link between acculturative stress and psychological distress. A

limited amount of previous literature has established marital satisfaction as a stress buffer for

successful cross-cultural transitions. This finding lends support to Sweatman's (1999) findings

that general marital satisfaction predicted depression scores in a sample of missionary couples.

However, the comparison is limited by the fact that Sweatman assessed couple's individual

scores but failed to report differences according to gender or role (Sweatman, 1999).

The cross-cultural transition may put more stress on the couple as a unit, and the quality of

their marital relationship may in turn affect the adjustment to a new culture. In their review of the

literature, Schwartz & Kahne (1993) highlighted the importance of the social relationship with










spouse, was inversely related to depressive symptomatology. Thus, social support received from

individuals other than within the married relationship did not predict psychological adjustment,

whereas perceived support from the marital partner did.

Marital satisfaction

Marriage was shown to serve as a buffer during stressful cultural adjustment, with the

marital relationship seen as being one of the most important sources of support for a couple

sojourning abroad (Fowler & Silberstein, 1989; Snyder, 1987). In a qualitative study with four

Taiwanese couples, Chang (2004) observed a positive impact on the marital relationship brought

forth by the change of lifestyle the interviewees experience by moving to the U.S. These couples

reported spending more time together than they would have in Taiwan, where different types of

social and family obligations exist, and they unanimously reported an increase in overall marital

satisfaction (Chang, 2004). Shao (2001), on the other hand, found that spouses experienced

tension in their marital relationships due to academic and other adjustment problems. The author

also named long periods of separation before reunion as resulting in marital conflicts (Shao,

2001). Similarly, De Verthelyi (1995) observed that out of 49 spouses in her sample, only 16

arrived together with their husbands. Simultaneous arrival was associated with joint decision-

making and mutual emotional support. Prolonged separation, in contrast, resulted in

asymmetrical relationships with the husband, who consequently assumed the role of translator

and guide upon the spouse's arrival. In turn, the asymmetry and ensuing dependency impacted

these spouses well-being and had to be negotiated, with some spouses endorsing the dependency

and others suffering from conflict and misunderstanding as a result (De Verthelyi, 1995).

With the exception of Chang (2004), no studies examining the marital relationships and

marital satisfaction of international students exist. An empirical study by Sweatman (1999),

however, examined the relationship of marital satisfaction and psychological symptoms of a










Table 4 4 Box's M tests of covariance homogeneity for spouses' region of origin, length of
stay, visa type, and presence/absence of children
Source Box 'sM2 p
Region of Origin 13.09 .90
Length of Stay 25.39 .78
Visa Type 11.35 .37
Presence/Absence of Children 9.70 .51










Spouses, in contrast to their international student partners, are not expected to have

sufficient English language skills upon arrival, and it is up to the individual to evaluate and

increase their language competencies. De Verthelyi (1995) noted that while many of the

interviewed women regarded their stay in the U.S. as an opportunity to learn English, few were

prepared for the level of impediment they faced due their limited language skills. As a result,

spouses experienced "resentment at the loss of autonomy" (p. 399) and a lack of being able to

express themselves fully and adequately other than to co-nationals (De Verthelyi, 1995).

Financial concerns

Financial difficulties are one of the key stressors for international students (Koyama, 2005;

Mori, 2000; Yang & Clum, 1995). According to the Open Doors report, 66% of F-1 students

receive financial support from family and personal savings (IIE, 2005). As part of their visa

requirements, international students have to be enrolled full-time every semester, and they are

not permitted to find employment in the U.S. labor market although some exceptions are allowed

(e.g., on-campus jobs, on- and off-campus internships). For students without paid teaching or

research assistantships, costly out-of-state tuition can impose a substantial financial burden. In

addition, financial aid and scholarships are often only available for American citizens and

permanent U. S. residents. Students' assets may also be dependent on the current exchange rate

between the U.S. dollar and their home currency (Koyama, 1995).

As for spouses, F-2 visa holders are not permitted to work and study and are thus unable to

financially contribute to the household income, unless they resort to illegal means to boost the

household budget such as by providing services as housekeepers and baby-sitters, as reported in

De Verthelyi's study (1995). Similarly, couples whose partners both worked full-time in their

home country, are forced to rely on a one-person income in the U.S., and are potentially facing a

downgrade of their socio-economic status upon arrival. In comparison, J-2 visa holders are









the U.S., the "women's identity .. is that of a wife" (p. 92). Despite her citation of a few

exceptions of women who found work in the U. S., the maj ority of the interviewees had jobs

before they embarked on the sojourn and experienced a change in that status by moving to the

U.S. Furnham and Bocher (1986) also argue that "in migrant families, it is the non-working

mothers who adjust the least well."

Similarly, Chang (2004) describes the experience of three of four spouses who had careers

and were financially independent in their home country; however, in order to move with their

husbands, they quit their professions and assumed financial dependence on their partners and

parent-in-laws. According to Chang (2004), "not content with being a stay-at-home housewife,

they all made efforts trying to find a focus in their lives in the United States, and all had different

strategies" (p. 234). De Verthelyi (1995) further states that "for the maj ority, arriving in the

United States on a visa with work restrictions meant changing from an active professional life in

the public sphere to a more traditional feminine role as a homemaker" (p. 398). She further states

that some spouses adapted to this situation easily, while for others the loss of their professional

identity was very difficult.

Stress Buffers

Social support

In general, social support has been established as a buffer in the link between stressors and

stress outcome (Thoits, 1995). Social support systems for sojourners may arise from a variety of

sources, including ties with overseas family and friends, accompanying spouses and family,

members of the dominant or host culture, members of the international community, and co-

nationals (Ward et al., 2001). The effect of social support has been recognized as a crucial

component in dealing with acculturative stress, and it is one of the most prominently researched

variables in relation to the acculturative process. Studies have primarily focused on international









Japan (42,200), Canada (28, 100), Taiwan (25,900), Mexico (13,000), Turkey (12,500), Germany

(8,600), and Thailand (8,600). According to SEVIS (2005) data, the top numbers for F-2 visa

holders came from the Republic of Korea (32,976), China (15,489), Japan (7,341), India (6,448),

and Taiwan (2,786). These numbers do not differentiate between spouses and dependent

children. A breakdown of J-2 visa holders by countries was not provided (SEVIS, 2005).

During the 2004/2005 academic year, the following universities hosted the largest number

of international students: University of Southern California, Los Angeles (6,800; 23% of total

student enrollment), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (5,600; 14% of total

enrollment), and University of Texas at Austin (5,300; 1 1% of total enrollment) (IIE, 2005).

Significance of international student families for U.S. higher education

Over the past 50 years, the United States has attracted students from all over the world to

pursue training and research in various academic fields. While venturing abroad for academic

studies has been a longstanding tradition for many countries and is common in numerous

research areas, the United States has become a center for advanced technology and scholarly

pursuits with more international students enrolled at U. S. universities than in any other nation

(IIE, 2005).

While the presence of international students promotes cultural and educational exchange

both during their stay in the United States as well as upon their return to their homeland, foreign

students' attendance at higher education institutions has also become part of a commercial

industry in the United States. In 2005/06, net contributions to U.S. economy by foreign students

and their families was $13.491 billion, spent on tuition, living expenses, and related costs (Open

Doors Special Report, 2007). Similarly, the Open Doors Special Report (2007) estimated net

contributions to the U. S. economy by foreign student dependents of up to $432 million in

2005/06. Ward, Bochner, and Furnham (2001) have noted that "although there is some resistance









1. Increased awareness about the presence of spouses of international students on college

and university campuses may heighten the sensitivity toward the needs of this particular

population. With nearly 23% of international graduate students arriving in the United States

accompanied by their partners, international and academic advisors should integrate knowledge

about spouses' issues and challenges into their work with international students.

2. In addition to offering support programs primarily geared toward spouses of

international students, additional support could be provided for couples arriving for the soj ourn

together. This may include adequate pre-arrival information for international students about

living and studying in the United States as a couple, as well as providing information geared

toward spouses of international students that adequately addresses the challenges of living in the

United States on a dependent visa status. Fowler & Silberstein (1987) noted that an overseas

move has the potential to completely disrupt a family unit due to the lack of social and emotional

support. The authors suggest that staff working with international families ought to engage in

"stress inoculation" training in the preparatory phase of a move in order to help families make

their adjustment more successful (e.g., Meichenbaum, 1985).

3. While social support remains an important component of well-being, marital satisfaction

could be taken into consideration while developing spouses' services. Upon arrival, orientation

sessions for soj touring couples could be held by international student offices, and information

for family support could be disseminated in major languages spoken by international students.

These may address some of the challenges that couples could potentially face during their

soj ourn together and solutions they make take, including couples counseling. Information could

include topics such as domestic violence and partner abuse, and couples could be directed to

appropriate resources in the event that they encountered these issues.










procedures outlined by Cohen and Cohen (1983) regarding hierarchical multiple regression were

followed.

Hierarchical Multiple Regression Analysis

Two separate analyses were conducted to determine the association between Acculturative

Stress and Psychological Distress and to examine whether interactions among Acculturative

Stress and Social Support, and Acculturative Stress and Marital Satisfaction, respectively,

significantly improved the overall models. In each regression, the first step was used to

statistically control for Social Support or Marital Satisfaction and the other predictive variable

(Acculturative Stress). In the second step, the interaction between the two predictors was entered.

Thus, main effects (i.e., Acculturative Stress and Social Support; Acculturative Stress and

Marital Satisfaction, respectively) entered the regression equation as a block in the first step of

the analyses. In the next step, the two-way interaction terms Acculturative Stress X Social

Support and Acculturative Stress X Marital Satisfaction were added separately into the

equations. The test of the interaction is whether a significant proportion of variance is accounted

for by interaction terms after partialing the main effects of the predictors in the first step of the

analysis. Since interaction effects tend to be difficult to detect with multiple regression, a more

liberal Type I error level of .10 was set, following the recommendations by McClelland and Judd

(1993), and in order to explore potentially meaningful interactions. Significant change in R2 foT

the interaction term indicates a significant moderator effect.

Regression results for the first regression are displayed in Table 4 6. Significant main

effects were observed for Social Support and Acculturative Stress, such that Psychological

Distress increased as Social Support decreased and Acculturative Stress increased. These main

effects accounted for 28% of the variance in Psychological Distress. The interaction between

Acculturative Stress and Social Support did not qualify the main effect, with no variance added










5. Research utilizing a longitudinal and/or sequential approach in order to identify changes to
factors influencing the sojourn (potential stressor, marital satisfaction, social support,
psychological distress) across the duration of the soj ourn.

6. Research identifying factors that contribute to positive adjustment, including personality
factors.

7. Research examining the potential crossover effect of spouses and partners in the
adjustment process (Caligiuri, Hyland, Joshi, & Bross, 1998; Fukuda & Chun, 1994;
Takeuchi, Yun, & Tesluk, 2002; Shaffer, 1996).

8. Similarly, research addressing family stress and family coping. What makes some couples
more successful at adjusting to the cross-cultural transition than others?

9. Examine help-seeking behavior among spouses of international students in order to
develop appropriate intervention models.

10. Research addressing cultural differences in the expression of mental health symptoms and
perception of social support and marital satisfaction.

11. Assess cultural orientation, e.g., collectivistic versus individualistic orientation in relation
to stressors, stress buffers, and stress outcome (e.g., Markus & Kitayama, 1991).

12. Assess level of acculturation of spouses and partners in relation to stressors, stress buffers,
and stress outcome (e.g., Chang, 2004).

13. In research on international students, include marital status of participants in order to
compare the adjustment process of international students who arrive on their own to that of
partnered students.


















UNIVERSITY OF

FLORIDA


SU BJECT: Approval of Protocol #2006-U-631
TITLE: Adjustment of Spouses of International Students
SPONSOR: None


I am pleased to advise you that the University of Florida Institutional Review Board has recommended
approval of this protocol. Based on its review, the UFIRB determined that this research presents no
more than minimal risk to participants, and based on 45 CFR 46.117(c}, authorizes you to administer
the informed consent process as specified in the protocol.


If you wish to make any changes to this protocol, including the need to increase the number of
participants authorized, you must disclose your plans before you implement them so that the Board
can assess their impact on your protocol. In addition, you must report to the Board any unexpected
complications that affect your participants.


If you have not completed this protocol by July 10, 2007, please telephone our office (392-0433),
and we will discuss the renewal process with you. It is important that you keep your Department
Chair informed about the status of this research protocol.


15F:dt


Institutional Review Board
FWAO0005790


98A Psychology Bldg
PO Box 112250
Gamensville,FPL 32611-2250
Phone: (352) 392-0433
Fax: (3.52) 392-9234
E-mail: irb2@aufl~edu
http://irb.uf~edu


DATE:


July 14, 2006


TO: Monica Bigler
PO Box 112250/PSY
Campus


FROM: Ira S. Fischler, ChairII
University of Florida
Institutional Review Board


An ~qual Opportunity Institution


APPENDIX C
IRB PROTOCOL










everyday needs of spouses while not adequately addressing the potential needs of couples during

the adjustment process. Shao (2001), for example, noted that during the cultural transition, the

marital relationship has to be redefined, and the new situation and circumstances may create

conflict. To serve international students well, the marital relationship of students ought to be

taken into account. Third, United States universities have recognized the importance of providing

support services for international students during their sojourn. Similarly, universities and

international centers need to become aware of the needs of spouses, and the potential impact of

spouses' well-being on international students' academic success. Chun (1994), for example,

discussed a couple' s family situation as one of the aspects that determined failure among

Japanese expatriates, and Black and Stephens (1989) reported a strong correlation between

adjustment levels of expatriates and their spouses. Fourth, national communities may vary in

their level of support, and group comparisons may assist in learning about differences between

nationalities and various ethnic communities. Finally, preventive measures (information,

orientation, etc.) to ensure support for the couple as a unit may be necessary at the beginning as

well as during the couple' s soj ourn.

Secondary Research Questions

In addition, a number of additional potential stressors and their relationship to

psychological distress were examined. It was hypothesized that spouses' English fluency,

financial concerns, and stress about husbands' academic progress would be positively related to

spouses' psychological distress. In addition, the relationship between number of goals for the

sojourn and marital satisfaction, acculturative stress, and psychological distress was studied.

English fluency

In the present sample, no relationship between spouses' English fluency and psychological

distress was found. This finding is not consistent with previous research (Nwadiora & McAdoo,









CHAPTER 1
INTTRODUCTION

Over the past five decades, international students have become a significant presence on

United States university campuses, with approximately 565,000 international students from over

180 countries recorded in 2004, according to the Open Doors report (Institute of International

Education, 2005). Notably, 22.5% of international graduate students who enter the United States

were married, based on the Open Doors data. While international students have attracted

considerable research interest and represent one of the most intensely studied populations in the

culture contact literature, spouses of international students have received comparatively little

attention.

Several researchers have proposed reasons for the absence of spouses in the cross-cultural

literature, among them their "invisibility" on university campuses due to the lack of assigned

tasks or goals for their sojourn (De Verthelyi, 1995, p. 389), as well as spouses being

institutionally unconnected and therefore of no direct interest to college administrators (Schwartz

& Kahne, 1993). On the other hand, authors have pointed to the impact that the presence of

spouses may have on the well-being of the accompanied international students, such as providing

a social and emotional support system. These authors have also called for further research in this

area in order to provide culturally sensitive counseling services to both international students and

their families alike (Bradley, 2000; Furnham, 2004; Mallinckrodt & Leong, 1992; Pedersen,

1991; Yoon & Portman, 2004).

One of the primary characteristics of the spouses' stay in the United States is their role

being contingent on the partner' s academic plans and career aspirations (Schwartz & Kahne,

1993; Vogel, 1985). While several visa types allow for student entry to the U. S., the maj ority of

international students carry an F-1 or a J-1 student visa (IIE, 2005). Spouses are eligible to join










1996; Lin & Yin, 1997; Poyrazli et al., 2001; Yang et al., 2005; Yeh & Inoseh, 2002). Since past

studies employed samples of international students only, a direct comparison is problematic. In

general, English language proficiency may not have been an equally salient factor for spouses of

international students in this sample. This result should be considered with caution, however.

The study's participants consisted of spouses whose English level appeared sufficient in order to

take the survey. It is possible that spouses whose English language skills were weaker either did

not participate or failed to complete the entirety of the survey, which in tumn may have biased the

present results. Thus, replicating the study with psychometric measures translated into spouses'

maj or spoken languages may assist in addressing this shortcoming. Further, alternative

measurements of English fluency should be employed to tap into English proficiency level.

Financial concern

Results indicated a positive relationship between levels of spouses' financial concern and

psychological distress. They are consistent with findings on the relationships between

international students' levels of financial concerns and psychological distress of international

students (Misra et al., 2005). Financial difficulties have been named as one of the key stressors

for international students (Church, 1982; Koyama, 2005; Mori, 2000). Naturally, spouses share

the financial implications of an overseas move, its impact on the couple's budget, and the

likelihood of a downgrade of the couple' s socio-economic status (De Verthelyi, 1995).

According to the Open Doors report, financial support from family and personal savings are the

main source of financial support in soj ourning students (IIE, 2005). Similarly, couples often rely

on students' income through assistantships and tuition waivers, without the possibility of outside

employment due to visa restrictions. In addition, where spouses may have been able to make

financial contributions to the household in the past, spouses on F-2 dependent visas are

prohibited from doing so, unless they resort to illegal employment, such as providing child care









estimates (Kuder-Richardson [KR]=20) for the five factors were good, with .80 for financial

concern (Yang & Clum 1994). While the ILS measure has an overall academic focus, the

adapted financial dimension taps into financial concerns of international students in general.

For the purpose of the current study, the adapted scale' s three items was scored on a 4-

point Likert scale ranging from 1 (never) to 4 (always), with a higher score representing higher

financial concern. Spouses were asked to select the response that best described their situation.

Original sample items, such as "I worry about my financial situation," were reworded to "I worry

about our financial situation" or "my financial situation influences my academic study" was

changed to "our financial situation influences my husband's academic study." Scores ranged

from 3 to 12. Coefficient alpha was .81 in the current study.

Stress Related to Husband's Academic Progress

Stress Related to Husband's Academic Progress was explored by using an adapted

Academic Pressure subscale of the Index of Life Stress measure (ILS; Yang & Clum, 1994) (see

above). This subscale of the ILS was originally designed to measure self-reported academic

stress experienced by international students. The items have been reworded in order to tap into

spouse-reported stress related to husband's academic progress. For example, "I worry about my

academic performance" was reworded to "I worry about my husband's academic performance,"

or "I am not doing as well as I want to in school" was reworded to "My husband is not doing as

well as I want him to do in school." Yang & Clum (1994) reported internal consistency estimates

(Kuder-Richardson [KR]=20) of .75 for the academic pressure subscale. In the current study,

Cronbach's alpha was .56.

Occupational and Homemaker Role Reward Value

Occupational and Homemaker Role Reward Value was assessed by using the two

subscales of Life Role Salience Scales (LRSS; Amatea, Cross, Clark, & Bobby, 1986). The









international students showed greater levels of social support, which points to the saliency of

inter-couple support for soj ourner families. Thus, in their effort to cope with the stress of living

in a foreign country, the quality of a couple's relationship appears to be more central for the

spouses than the amount of social support at hand.

For single international students, establishing a social network may present a primary

coping strategy in the cultural adjustment process, a fact that studies on international students

have consistently pointed out (Lee et al., 2003; Misra et al., 2003; Poyrazli et al., 2004).

Comparably, the transition of a couple to the United States may lead individuals to rely heavily

on each other, and marital satisfaction in turn receives a primary role, and where "the marriage is

required to bear the whole weight of relational needs and providing social support when

previously this support had been supplied by numerous people and communities" (Sweatman,

1999, p. 16). Similarly, Adelegan and Parks (1985) pointed to the fact that married students have

greater difficulty establishing a social network upon their soj ourn (cited in De Verthelyi, p. 390).

This circumstance could increase a couple's social isolation, and their reliance on each other.

Spouses whose marriage is intact and well functioning may benefit from a closer bond, whereas

spouses' cross-cultural adjustment and mental health may be at risk if they report an unfulfilling

marital situation.

The current findings have implications for the planning of family support programs. First,

spouses often do not have the individual right to access mental health services on college

campuses and often can only do so in conjunction with their partners who are fee-paying

students. This may prevent spouses in need of service from seeking help, whereas they may also

be reluctant to ask their partner to j oin them for counseling, or partners may be unwilling to do

so. Second, while necessary and helpful, spousal support groups often focus primarily on










1990; Ward et al., 2001; Ward & Rana-Deuba, 2000). Studies conducted employing a cultural

learning approach have investigated variables such as knowledge about the new culture (Pruitt,

1978; Ward & Searle, 1991), length of residence in the host culture (Ward, Okura, Kennedy, &

Kojima, 1998), previous experience abroad (Klineberg & Hull, 1979), and cultural distance

(Ward & Kennedy, 1994). According to Ward et al. (2001), socio-cultural adjustment is

relatively predictable as it improves quickly in the earliest stages of the cross-cultural encounter,

reaches a plateau, and then tends to remain stable.

Stress and coping approach

In comparison, the stress and coping model regards cross-cultural transitions as a sequence

of stressful changes that necessitate adequate coping strategies by the individual (Ward et al.,

2001). Stress and coping theories have focused on identifying factors that contribute as

significant stressors and may hinder adaptation in a culturally different environment. Even

though soj ourners have been studied from a variety of theoretical perspectives, the stress and

coping framework is presently the most popular approach to examine cross-cultural adaptation

and serves as the theoretical foundation employed in the present study (Berry, 1997; Lee,

Koeske, & Sales, 2004; Misra, Crist, & Burant, 2003; Ward, 1996; Ward & Kennedy, 2001;

Ward, et al., 2001).

The stress and coping approach views the contributors to cross-cultural adjustment similar

to factors involved in adapting to other life experiences involving transitions, and it highlights

the importance of potential stressors, coping mechanisms, and the respective physical and mental

health outcomes of the individual in transition (Thoits, 1995; Ward et al., 2001; Yang & Clum,

1994). Within the cross-cultural literature, this approach has been particularly influenced by

Lazarus and Folkman's (1984) work on stress, appraisal, and coping, and by Holmes and Rahe's

(1967) research on impacts of life events.











APPENDIX B
INFORMED CONSENT FORM







Informed Consent

Protocol Title: Adjustment of spouses of international students.

Please read this consent document carefully before you decide to participate in this study.

Purpose of the research study: To understand the cross-cultural adjustment of spouses
of international students and how their unique situation impacts their well-being.

What you will be asked to do in the study: You will be asked to complete a survey
about your experience of living in the United States as a spouse of an international
student.

Time required: 30-45 minutes

Risks and Benefits: There are no immediate risks or benefits for participating. No more
than minimal risks.

Compensation: There is no scheduled compensation for participating.

Confidentiality: Your identity will be kept confidential, which means that I do not know
who you are. Your information will be assigned a code number. ~To ensure
confidentiality, please do not enter your name or any other identifying information. When
you have completed the on-line survey, close your browser window to ensure that no one
else can view your responses.

Voluntary participation: Your participating inl this study is completely voluntary. There
is no penalty for not participating.

Right to withdraw from the study: You have the right to withdraw- from the study at
any time without consequence.

Whom to contact if you have questions about the study: Monica Bigler, Mv.S.,
University of Florida, Department of Psychology, P.O. Boxe 1 12250, G~ainesville, FL,
32611, t1~~I. ..~11 .*.. Superviisor. Dr. G;. Neimeyer, 258 Psychology Building,
Department of Psychology, UJniversity of Florida,326 1 1, 352-392-0601 x257,
neimeyer~ufl.edu.

Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study: UFIRB
office, University of Florida, Box 1 12250. Gainesville, FL 32611i: ph (352) 392-043 3

Agreement: By clicking the link below, you are indicating that you voluntarily agree to
participate in the survey. If you do not w.ish to participate, please close this page. Copies
of this informed consent can be acquired by contacting Monica Bigler (1 --.. I ..11 11.
or si mply by printing this screen by pressing your browser print button.

Approved by
University of Florida
Institutional Review Board 02
Protocol # 2006-U-0631
For Use Through 07/10/2007










REFERENCE LIST


Abe, J., Talbot, D.M., & Geelhoed, R.J. (1998). Effects of peer program on international
student adjustment. Journal of College Development, 39, 539-547.

Adelegan, F.O., & Parks, D.J. (1985). Problems of transition for African students in an American
University. Journal of College Student Personnel, 26, 505-508.

Aiken, L. S., & West, S.G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Ali, A., van der Zee, K., Sanders, G. (2003). Determinants of intercultural adjustment
among expatriate spouses. hIternational Journal ofhitercultural Relations, 27(5),
563-580.

Amatea, E.S., Cross, E.G., Clark, J.E., & Bobby X. (1986). Assessing the work and
family role expectations of career-oriented men and women: The Life Role
Salience Scales. Journal of2arriage & the Family, 48(4), 831-838.

Aneshensel, C.S. (1992). Social stress: Theory and research. Annual Review of
Sociology, 18, 15-38.

Aroian, K.J., Patsdaughter, C.A., Levin, A., & Gainan, M.E. (1995). Use of the Brief
Symptoms Inventory to assess psychological distress in three immigrant groups.
International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 41(1), 3 1-46.

Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D.A. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in
social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51(6), 1 173-1 182.

Barratt, M.F., & Huba, M.E. (1994) Factors related to international undergraduate student
adjustment in an American community. College Student Journal, 28, 422-436.

Bennett, D. (2002). Effects of electronic conanunication on culture shock of spouses of
international students. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, West Virginia
University .

Berry, J.W. (1997). Immigration, acculturation, and adaptation. AppliedPsychology: An
International Review, 46, 5-34.

Berry, J.W., & Kim, U. (1988). Acculturation and mental health. In P. Dasen,
J.W.Berry, & N. Satorius (Eds.), Health and cross-culturalpsychology (pp. 207-
236). London: Sage.

Black, J. S. (1988). Work role transitions: A study of American expatriate managers in
Japan. Journal oflnternational Business Studies, 19, 533-546.












TABLE OF CONTENTS


page

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .............. ...............4.....


LIST OF TABLES ............ ...... .__ ...............8....


LIST OF FIGURES .............. ...............9.....


AB S TRAC T ............._. .......... ..............._ 10...


CHAPTER


1 INTRODUCTION ................. ...............12.......... ......


2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE ................. ...............16.......... .....


Characteristics of Spouses of International Students ................. ...............16........... ..
D efinition............... .......... .... ........ ........1

Demographic Profile of International Students and Spouses ................ ............... ....17
Gender and marital status ............... ... ........... ...............17.....
Numbers of international students and degrees. ................ ... .. ......... ................18
Significance of international student families for U. S. higher education ................19
Soj ourner Adjustment ................. ...............20........... ....
Introduction ................ ................ ..............2
Models of Adj ustment in the Soj ourn Literature ................. ...............23.............
Cultural learning approach ................ ...............23........... ....
Stress and coping approach ................. ............... ...............24.....
Adjustment Literature on Spouses of International Students ................ ............... ...._..27
O verview .............. .. ....... ... .... ...............2
Studies on Spouses of International Students ......................_____ .. ......__.........2
Potential Stressors Faced by Spouses of International Students ................ ................ .32
Acculturative stress .............. ...............32....

Language fluency .............. ...............34....
Financial concerns ................. ........... ...............35.......
Stress related to husband' s academic progress ................ ............................36
Occupational and homemaker role reward value ........................._ ...............36
Stress Buffers............... ...............37
Social support............... ...............37
M arital satisfaction ............ ..... .._ ...............40...
Sum mary ............ ..... .._ ...............41...
Primary Hypotheses ............_ ..... ..__ ...............41...
Secondary Hypotheses ............_ ..... ..__ ...............42...
Exploratory Research Questions............... ...............4










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Yeh, C.J, & Inose, M. (2003). International students' reported English fluency, social
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Yi, K.Y., Lin, J., & Kishimoto, Y. (2003). Utilization of counseling services by
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and social affiliation to adjustment: A longitudinal study of Taiwanese students in
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numerous areas that demand adjustment on their part. These include the disruption of their social

network, adjustment to new surroundings (language, food, customs, etc.), as well as changes in

home and work life. Further, whereas husbands and partners may also experience a disruption of

their personal life upon their sojourn, they are likely to find themselves in the defined role as a

student or trainee and within a network of academic support. Spouses, on the other hand, face the

burden of not being institutionally connected. Due to the lack of personal and professional

connections, they may therefore be particularly vulnerable to the impact of acculturative

stressors upon their transition, and numerous mental health outcomes have been cited in the

spouses literature, including anxiety and depression (e.g., De Verthelyi, 1995; Schwartz &

Kahne, 1993; Vogel, 1985). Similar to international students' however, spouses may also be

reluctant to seek psychological help (De Verthelyi, 1995). In addition, psychological distress in

spouses of international students could reflect "trait" as well as "state" features, meaning that

international student spouses may "bring distress with them", rather than experiencing it as a

consequence of acculturation experiences (e.g., Costa & McCrae, 1998). Longitudinal work

would better be able to assess the contribution of personal variables that spouses bring to the

soj ourn.

The moderating role of social support and marital satisfaction

Social support. First, this study hypothesized that social support would act as a buffer in

the link between acculturative stress and psychological distress; i.e., it would ameliorate the

negative effects of acculturative stress on psychological adjustment. Social support was

measured by employing the overall score of the ISSS scale, an instrument that assesses both

instrumental and socio-emotional support (Ong & Ward, 2005). Whereas instrumental support

measures hands-on, practical support, the socio-emotional subscale taps into an individual's

perceived "emotional support and social companionship" (Ong & Ward, 2005, p. 638-639).










loss, provide purpose, and influence the degree to which the soj ourn is seen as satisfactory (De

Verthelyi, 1995). In this study, however, the number of goals was neither predictive of spouses'

acculturative stress nor of psychological adjustment.

In the current study, spouses indicated the number of goals for their soj oumn. It is possible

that the number of goals stated may not directly correspond to actual goals pursued. Thus,

measuring spouses' goals may be improved by including psychometric measurements that assess

alternative constructs such as goal-orientation or self-efficacy, for example.

Exploratory Research Questions

Exploratory questions were designed to empirically validate a number of statements that

had been derived from qualitative studies on spouses of international students. These included

research questions addressing couples' simultaneous versus separate arrival and decision-

making. Further, the relationship between spouses' perceived level of social support and number

of spouses' programs at their partner' s universities was explored. Finally, moderating effects of

social support and marital satisfaction in the link between English fluency, financial concern,

stress related to husband' s academic progress and psychological distress were examined.

Simultaneous versus separate arrival

First, the question as to whether simultaneous versus separate arrival was related to marital

satisfaction was explored. Previous qualitative studies on spouses of international students

addressed the potential impact of a couple's separate versus simultaneous arrival. In general, it

was noted that simultaneous arrival benefited the marital relationship due to the fact that couples

are going through the experience of arriving in a foreign country together and are sharing the

challenges of the cultural transition (De Verthelyi, 1995). Similar, in a sample of five

interviews with female Chinese spouses, Shoa (2004) observed that "the longer the couple was

separated before reunion, the more likely they would have marital problems" (p. 4). In turn, this









Making Friends, Going to University, Traveling, and Finding a Job. The total number of selected

and/or self-generated goals comprised the number of goals for the soj ourn.

Simultaneous versus Separate Arrival

As part of the Demographic Questionnaire, participants indicated the time of their arrival

in the U. S (see Appendix A). In addition, participants were asked to state the time of their

husband's arrival in the U.S. Simultaneous versus separate arrival was determined by comparing

arrival dates. If arrival dates were more than one month apart, they were coded as "separate

arrival." According to literature on sojourning spouses, simultaneous arrival may contribute to

"sharing from the start the impact of uncertainty and cultural differences as well as the initial

exploration of the options provided by the host environment. It allowed for j oint decision-making

about where to live, how to furnish the apartment, which car to buy, etc. and most importantly, it

established the basis for mutual emotional support" (De Verthelyi, 1995).

Decision-Making about Sojourn

Participants were asked as to "how they decided to come to the U.S.?" Choices were 1)

"my husband and I made the decision together," and 2) "my husband made the decision because

it was important for his career." In addition, participants could select an "other" option, which

provided them with the opportunity to type an individualized response to the question.

Presence of Spouses Programs

The presence and number of spouses programs was assessed by selecting options from a

list of possible spouse-related programs provided by husbands' universities, including "English

classes, Spouses Groups, Advising, Spouses Welcome Orientation, Online information, and

Family programs." Under a separate category, participants were able to type additional services

available to them. The measure consisted of the total number of spouses programs indicated by

parti cipants.










their implications, along with limitations, final conclusions, implications for practice, and future

directions for research.









sample of missionaries during cross-cultural adjustment, as assessed by the Relationship

Assessment Scale (RAS; Hendrick, 1988) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI; Derogatis &

Melisartos, 1983). While no relationship was found between marital satisfaction and anxiety, a

significant relationship between marital satisfaction and depression was detected, with lower

levels of marital satisfaction related to higher levels of depression and vice versa. Post-hoc

analyses further revealed that the marital satisfaction subscale of "time spent together" most

strongly predicted depression scores, followed by affective communication and finances. The

author argues that quality of marriage appears to have a buffering effect on stress (Sweatman,

1999).

Summary

In conclusion, spouses of international students face a unique set of challenges based on

their visa status. While they potentially share some of the adjustment problems and concerns

experienced by their husband counterparts and international students in general, they also

encounter challenges particular to their role as F-2/J-2 dependents. This study will examine the

extent to which acculturative stress, language and financial difficulties, stress related to

husband's academic progress and occupational and homemaker role reward value contribute to

spouses' psychological adjustment. In turn, social support and marital satisfaction will be

explored as potential moderators in the link between stressors and psychological distress.

Primary Hypotheses

Acculturative Stress will be significantly positively related to psychological distress.

Higher levels of acculturative stress will likely be related to higher psychological maladjustment

(Constantine et al. 2004; Lee et al., 2004; Snyder, 1987; Yang & Clum, 1995; Ying & Han,

2006).









& Clum, 1995). Stress evoked by a cultural transition is commonly referred to as acculturative

stress (Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1994). In his review of literature of 30 years of studies on cultural

adaptation of soj ourners, Church (1982) described international students facing potential

stressors such as "language difficulties, financial problems, adjusting to a new educational

system, homesickness, adjusting to social customs and norms, and for some students, racial

discrimination" (p. 544). Empirical evidence shows that cross-cultural interaction, which calls

for people to function in unfamiliar physical and social environments, is potentially very stressful

and may cause individuals to experience outcomes that can range from mild distress to severe

maladaptive symptoms (Mori, 2000).

A relationship between acculturative stress and psychological distress has been repeatedly

established across different groups within international student populations. Research on

acculturative stress has shown that a relationship between stress and mental health symptoms

exists, particularly in the form of depressive symptoms. Acculturative stress has shown to be

positively related to depression in a sample of African, Asian, and Latin American international

students (Constantine et al., 2004), Taiwanese international students (Ying & Han, 2006),

Korean international students (Lee et al., 2004), and Asian international students (Yang & Clum,

1995). For individuals from cultures other than the United States, and in particular for Asian

students, somatic symptoms may be of particular importance in relation to acculturative stress

(Lee et al., 2004; Mori, 2000). Lee and colleagues (2003) pointed out that Asian international

students appear to evidence physical symptoms rather than express their psychological distress in

the form of anxiety or depression (see also Lin & Yi, 1997; Mori, 2000; Yoon & Portman, 2004).

Further, whereas academic demands and a change of social environment are encountered

by U.S. and international students alike, the transition may be more challenging for international









one' s partner in the broader context of intercultural adjustment, as well as the stress put on

families during cultural transitions. Qualitative accounts on spouses of international students'

cross-cultural adjustment have similarly emphasized the significance of the relationship between

spouses' marital satisfaction and spouses' psychological adjustment (De Verthelyi, 1995; Chang,

2004; Shao, 2001).

Evidently, individuals experiencing high acculturative stress may be more at risk for

experiencing mental health symptoms, and the risk may in turn be exacerbated or diminished by

the presence or absence of marital satisfaction. Findings in this study show that perceiving one' s

marital relationship as intact and fulfilling, may in turn offset some of the stressors experienced

and serve as an important coping mechanism. The reverse is true for spouses with low marital

satisfaction, who, as a consequence, may lack sufficient coping strategies and experience

increased stress reactions. Spouses may have limited access to a larger personal and professional

network, which in turn may increase their dependence on their partners. Whereas coping

resources may have been distributed across family members and friends in the past, the cross-

cultural transition may shift the focus primarily on the relationship. If the relationship is intact,

spouses tend to benefit, whereas if they experience low marital satisfaction, their coping

strategies my be limited and they may be at risk for psychological distress.

Importantly, the couple's cross-cultural transition appears to put emphasis on the quality of

the marital relationship. Whereas for some spouses this transition may go hand in hand with a

positive view of the relationship, for others, the transition may be more difficult if the marital

relationship is not fulfilling. Vogel (1986), for example, in her study on Japanese wives at

Harvard, contended that spouses, who previously relied on support from female relatives at

home, are not able to replace these close bonds with new acquaintances during their soj ourn.









Instead they grow a closer bond with their husbands, to the extent that their union represents a

"nuclear family" (Vogel, 1986, p. 277), where the "husband spends more time with his family

(...) and there is more socializing as a couple" (p. 277). Similarly, in her qualitative study

interviewing Chinese wives of international students, Shao (2001) reported that the lack of social

obligations had led to a stronger interdependence between husband and wife, with spouses

serving as the international students' primary source of social support. Similarly, in her

qualitative study on Taiwanese couples soj ourning in the United States, Chang (2004) noted that

while some couples benefited from less social obligations toward their families back home, the

"lack of resources in a foreign country facilitated the codependence between husband and wife"

(p. 242), and more need by the spouses to express their emotions to their husbands while in the

United States as opposed to close friends in the past. Based on her findings, Chang (2004) also

suggested that the impact of the couple' s individual acculturation level may be favorable or

unfavorable on marital satisfaction, and should thus be taken into consideration when working

with distressed Taiwanese couples.

Evidently, the couple's cross-cultural transition appears to shift priorities and social roles

within the relationship and may lead to a closer bond between the couple. Consequently, the

quality of the relationship becomes more salient and its perceived quality may in turn affect the

mental well-being of the spouses. The limited access to family and other support systems may

exacerbate an already stressful situation, if the relationship is perceived as unsatisfactory. Even

though spouses may have contact with friends and family through Internet and telephone

communication, their everyday experience may be limited to the couple's existence. Bonds that

had been established over years in their home country may not easily be replaced by new

acquaintances, and naturally, spouses may turn to their husbands for social support. At the same









not significant (see Table 4 2). Consequently, age was not entered as a covariate into the

regression analysis.

Similarly, Box's M tests were conducted in order to determine the potential effects of

spouses' region of origin (Asian, African, Middle Eastern, European, South American, North

American), length of stay (below 6 months, 7-18 months, 19-30 months and above 30 months),

visa type (F-2 and J-2), and presence or absence of children, on the dependent variables

Acculturative Stress, Social Support, Marital Satisfaction, and Psychological Distress. Length of

stay was modeled after intervals described in literature on soj ourner adjustment (Church, 1982;

Lysgaard, 1955). Box's M tests are used to examine homogeneity of variance-covariance

matrices. Significant results indicate heterogeneity of covariance matrices across groups and

suggest that it may be necessary to (1) include covariates in subsequent models, or (2) treat

groups separately in further analyses. Box's M tests were non-significant among the four groups,

thus covariance among these groups revealed no differences. Consequently, no covariates

entered the regression analysis (see Table 4 4 for results of Box's M tests).

Descriptive Statistics

Descriptive statistics and internal consistency reliability estimates for the collected

measures are presented in Table 4 5. For the primary variables Acculturative Stress (ASSIS),

Social Support (ISSS), Marital Satisfaction (RAS), and Psychological Distress (BSI), Cronbach's

coefficient alphas ranged from .88 to .97. For the secondary variables English Fluency, Financial

Concern, Husband Academic Progress, and Life Role Saliency Scales (Occupational Reward

Value Scale Career; Occupational Reward Value Scale Home), Cronbach's coefficient alphas

ranged from .56 to .90. Correlations among the primary and secondary variables appear in Table

4 3. Means, Standard Deviations and reliability coefficients for primary and secondary

variables are presented in Table 4 -5.










programs is related to higher social support measures in the current sample, and related to

instrumental support in particular.

Finally, no relationship was found between number of goals for the soj oumn and the main

variables acculturative stress, marital satisfaction and psychological distress. Nor were

differences detected between simultaneous versus separate arrival or j oint versus husband

decision-making on the main variables acculturative stress, marital satisfaction and

psychological distress.

Implications for Practice

Spouses of international students continue to represent an invisible group on university

campuses. In order to serve the international student population and their accompanying families

well, spouses have to be taken into account by United States higher education institutions. Thus,

increased awareness of the presence of international student families and the issues associated

with families living abroad should be addressed by United States higher education institutions in

several ways. International office staff, academic advisors, and training directors may benefit

from becoming increasingly knowledgeable about the experience of spouses of international

students as they accompany their partners to complete training abroad. Preventive and remedial

measures to assist spouses of international students, international student couples, and

international students accompanied by family members, could be adopted by various college

offices working with international students. Additional research evidence in the form of quasi-

experimental and experimental studies should be collected to support potential measures that

could assist spouses during their stay and warrant claims for intervention. Based on the results of

the current study, several suggestions for practices with spouses of international students and

international couples will be put forward.









BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Monika Bigler was born in 1968, in Thun, Switzerland. As the first member of her family

to complete a baccalaureate degree, she attended the University of Basel, Switzerland, where she

studied German Linguistics and Literature. In 1995, she moved to the United States and first

attended Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, FL. She then enrolled at the University of

Florida and completed her bachelor' s and master' s degrees in psychology from the Department

of Psychology at the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. During her enrollment as a doctoral

student in counseling psychology, she also trained for a Master of Arts in Mass Communication

in the College of Journalism and Communication at the University of Florida, with a

specialization in documentary film production. Monika Bigler is currently a psychology

instructor at Inver Hills Community College in Inver Grove Heights, MN, and a career planning

instructor at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Upon completion of her Ph.D.

degree, she will continue to work in the field of career counseling.
















































If yes, how long did you work in your job?
1 Less than 1 year 3 3-5 years
2 1-3 years 4 More than 5 years


What services does your husband's university offer for spouses of international students?
(circle all that apy
1 English classes 5 Online
information
2 Spouses Group 6 Faiyporm
3 Adisn 7 Other:
4 Spouses Welcome
Orientation


Hav~re u aticiatd n nyofthsesevies If ye, which ones?

What personal goals do you have for your stay in the US? (Circle all that apply)
1 Raising children 5 Traveling
2 Learning English 6 Finding ajo


APPENDIX A
DEMOGRAPHIC QUESTIONNAIRE


What is your age (e.g., 25, 36, etc.)?
What is your gender? IPlease select: male/feml
What is your legal home country? (e.g., India, Spain, China, etc.) [
What is your ethnicity/race (e.g., White, Black, Asian, etc.)~
What US state do you live in? (e.g., Florida)
What is your visa type? (e.g., F-2, M-2, etc.)
What is your native languages) (e.g., Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, etc.)?
What is the highest level of education that you have completed?
1 Some High 4 Graduated
School College
2 Graduated High 5 Master' s Degree
School
3 Some College 6 PhD

In what monthlyear did you and your husband get married? (e.g., May, 1997)
When did YOU come to the USA? (e.g., January 2004)~
When did your husband come to the USA? (arrived together OR monthlyear)
Do you have children, yes/no
How many children live in the US with you?
How did you decide to come to the USA?
1 My husband and I made the decision
together
2 My husband made the decision because it
was important for his career
3 Other: please type in field below

For me, moving to the US was:
S1 desirable 2 undesirable 3 hard to say

Did you have a job/career in your home country before moving to the US? YES / NO









Number of goals for the sojourn will be related to higher levels of marital satisfaction,

lower levels of acculturative stress and lower levels of psychological distress. Is the presence of

a clearly announced goal associated with lower levels of psychological distress and lower levels

of acculturative stress? Based on De Verthelyi's (1995) report, personal satisfaction with the stay

and personal well-being depended on the wives' creation of a personal proj ect in relation to their

soj ourn.

Exploratory Research Questions

A number of exploratory research questions will be examined. Due to the lack of previous

research, no directional hypotheses will be put forth:

Is simultaneous versus separate arrival associated with level of marital satisfaction and

acculturative stress?

Is type of decision-making (husband, j oint) regarding the soj ourn abroad associated with

marital satisfaction and psychological adjustment?

Is the presence of spouses' program associated with higher levels of perceived social

support, lower levels of acculturative stress and lower levels of psychological distress?

What is the level and direction of the relationship between occupational role reward value,

homemaker role reward value and psychological distress?

If a significant moderating effect is detected for social support in the link between

acculturative stress and psychological distress, do levels of socio-emotional versus instrumental

social support differ in relation to their moderating effect?

Is there a moderating effect of social support and marital satisfaction in the link between

English language, financial difficulty, and stress related to husband's academic progress, and

psychological adjustment?









In summary, the aforementioned studies provide a broad yet inconclusive overview of the

experience of spouses of international students. With the exception of Chang' s (2004) research,

none of the qualitative approaches followed an explicitly stated methodological paradigm.

Similarly, the authors did not provide a rationale for the construction of interview questions, data

analyses, or an audit trail. While these studies do not propose potential theories on the range and

possible impact of stressors experienced by spouses during their soj ourn, they nevertheless

provide potential topics and themes, which in turn build the foundation for this study.

Potential Stressors Faced by Spouses of International Students

Topics selected for this investigation are based on commonalities encountered in previous

qualitative work. These include overcoming language barriers, financial concerns, adjusting to

culturally different norms, ethnic discrimination, and homesickness/loneliness, stress associated

with husband's academic progress along with the career and role change spouses face when

accompanying their husbands abroad. Similarly, attention will be given to the importance of

social support systems and the marital relationship. An examination of previous literature on

spouses of international students attempted to identify salient variables related to the

psychological adjustment of spouses of international students. Included are acculturative stress,

language, financial difficulties, satisfaction with husband's academic progress, and spouses'

career-homemaker role conflict. Social support and marital satisfaction were further included as

important contributors to spousal well-being.

Acculturative stress

Numerous studies have suggested that adaptation to a host culture can be difficult and

stressful (Choi, 1997; Lee et al., 2004; Mori, 2000; Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1994; Yang and Clum,

1994; Yeh & Inoseh, 2003). Cultural contact literature describes cross-cultural encounters as

significant life events of stressful proportions (e.g., Mori, 2000; Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1994; Yang










reliability, with a reported internal consistency score of .95. In the current study, Cronbach's

alpha was .96 for the overall scale, with .94 for the socio-emotional support sub scale and .95 for

the instrumental support subscale.

Marital Satisfaction

The Relationship Assessment Scale (RAS; Hendrick, 1988) is a 7-item scale designed to

serve as a brief, generic self-report measure of relationship satisfaction. Participants answer item

questions (e.g., "How well does your partner meet your needs?") on a 5-point rating scale.

Following rekeying of reverse-scored items, ratings are summed to produce a total satisfaction

score. Hendrick (1988) reported a Cronbach alpha coefficient of .86 for RAS scores in an

undergraduate sample, and that RAS scores were correlated in expected directions with

independent measures of love attitudes, intimate self-disclosure, dyadic adjustment, and

relationship commitment. In the present study, the RAS produced a Cronbach alpha coefficient

of .88.

Psychological Distress

The Brief Symptoms Inventory (BSI; Derogatis & Melisartos, 1983) was employed to

examine the psychological distress of spouses of international students. The BSI consists of 53

items covering nine dimensions (e.g., anxiety, depression, and somatization). Participants rated

how much they had been bothered by each symptom over the past 2 months from 1 (not at all) to

5 (extremely). Examples of symptoms included "nervousness or shakiness inside," "poor

appetite," and "feeling fearful."

The composition of the total measure was modified by excluding three items that make up

the psychoticism scale. These psychoticism items had been removed by researchers in the past

because they were thought to be potentially distracting for a non-clinical sample or presumed

unsuitable for use with immigrant groups (Aroian, Patsdaughter, Levin, & Gianan, 1995). Lee et










Table 4 7 Hierarchical regression summary of psychological distress regressed onto
acculturative stress and marital dissatisfaction
Step/Predictor R2 2~R B SEB P
Step 1 .35* .35*
Acculturative Stress .00 .00 .44*
Marital Dissatisfaction .13 .03 .32*
Step 2 .37* .02t
Acculturative Stress .00 .00 .44*
Marital Dissatisfaction .13 .03 .33*
Acculturative Stress x Marital Dissatisfaction .00 .00 .12t
Note." *<.001. p<.09.










Han, 2006). While a connection between acculturative stress and mental health symptoms had

previously been established for soj ourner groups of international students and expatriate spouses,

this study extends the literature on sojourner adjustment by establishing the link between

acculturative stress and psychological distress for the subgroup of spouses of international

students.

Similar to other types of international soj ourners, spouses of international students undergo

an adjustment process to unfamiliar physical and cultural environments that is potentially

stressful, and can lead to individuals experiencing mental health symptoms (Mori, 2000). Cross-

cultural literature points to the fact that stress levels encountered by international students might

approach levels of acculturative stress experienced among refugees, which are usually reported

as most severe (Berry & Kim, 1988). Similarly, Poyrazli et al. (2004) stated that international

students lack personal connections upon their arrival and as a consequence are prone to

experience considerably greater adjustment difficulties than established ethnic groups. Compared

to mean ASSIS scores reported by international students in previous studies, sample mean

ASSIS scores in the current study were comparably higher, indicating that spouses of

international students experience at least similar or higher levels of acculturative stress in

comparison to foreign student populations (e.g., Constantine et al., 2004; Poyrazli et al., 2004).

The stress and coping literature has consistently pointed to the fact that stress, i.e., internal

or external demands that required an individual to change his or her functioning, may be linked

to mental health symptoms (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984; Thoits, 1995). Whereas negative life

events have been shown to predict subsequent psychological distress in general, stressors

associated with cross-cultural transitions in the absence of coping mechanisms may be

particularly impacting spouses of international students. Upon their sojourn, spouses face










by traditional academics to the notion that they are now part of a commercial industry and that

functionally students have become clients, there is no turning back. Many institutions have now

become utterly dependent on the income generated in this way" (p. 145). Not surprisingly,

intense competition exists among countries such as Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand,

with each country devoting considerable resources to attract international students to their higher

education institutions (Ward, et al., 2001). At least partially, previous studies on international

students' adjustment ought to be seen in the context of this trend with the goal to provide

competitive services for international students along with promoting and enhancing students'

well-being during their soj ourn. By the same token, some universities have recognized the

importance of paying attention to families of international students and have begun offering

services to spouses of international students such as free language, community, and family

programs (Bradley, 2000; Furnham, 2004; Yoon & Portman, 2004). Nevertheless, the well-being

of accompanying family members has received comparatively little attention, despite the

potential impact that both the presence and adjustment of spouses may have on international

student academic progress and retention (Furnham, 2004).

Sojourner Adjustment

Introduction

A soj ourn can be defined as a "temporary stay in a new place" (Ward et al. 2001, p. 143).

The length of stay may vary depending on the assignment but is commonly described as between

6 months to five years, and the stay is of voluntary nature with the intent to ultimately return

home. Ward et al. (2001) list a variety of soj ourner categories including "expatriate business

people, diplomats, members of the armed forces, students, volunteers, aid workers, and

missionaries" (p. 143). These authors are stressing the importance of rapid sojourner adjustment

to a host culture in order for the individual to function effectively in his or her newly assumed

































O 2007 Monika Bigler










Table 4 3 Intercorrelations among acculturative stress, social support, marital satisfaction,
psychological distress and secondary variables
Variable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1. ASSIS -.24** -.20* -.25 -.17* .50** -.04 -.20* .07
2. ISSS -.93** .94** .22** -.24** -.02 .22* ,09
3. ISSS- -.75** .22* -.25** .02 .17* .07
SE
4. ISSS-I -.20* -.20* -.06 .23* .10
5. MS --.35** -.00 .09 .02
6. BSI --.09 .03 -.01
7. Age --.02 .13
8. Services -.04
9. Goals
Note. ASSIS = Acculturative Stress; ISSS = Index of Sojoumner Social Support; ISSS-SE = Index
of Soj ourner Social Support Socio-Emotional; ISSS-I = Index of Soj oumner Social Support -
Instrumental; RAS = Marital Satisfaction; BSI =Brief Symptoms Inventory Psychological
Distress; Services = Number of Services present; Goals = number of goals for soj oumn.










dependence on husband's academic success (Chang, 2004; Day, 2001; De Verthelyi, 1995;

Schwartz & Kahne, 1993; Vogel, 1985).

Studies on Spouses of International Students

Vogel (1985) as well as Schwartz & Kahne (1993) highlighted the experiences of faculty

and student wives at two universities in the northeastern U.S. Vogel (1985) outlined issues

related to social isolation, communication difficulties, fear of strangers and racial discrimination

among Japanese wives at Harvard University, based on discussion groups held for these women.

Similarly, introducing a faculty and student wives' support program at M.I.T., Schwartz &

Kahne (1993) discussed the women' s sense of being an outsider on campus. The authors

underscored that the wives' presence is not of importance to the university administrators and

even though "these women are in the community, they are not of it" (p. 454). Further, Schwartz

and colleague pointed to the unique adjustment issues the women face: "The maj ority of the

problems of newcomers are related to being outsiders, having family responsibilities, being

institutionally unconnected, having their status almost exclusively determined by their spouse's

career commitments, and being both transients in the community and in transition in their own

lives" (p. 453). Both articles make no distinction between faculty wives and student spouses,

limiting the interpretation of their reports. It is noteworthy that among other factors that may

differentiate faculty wives and spouses, international student families likely face additional

financial difficulties during their soj ourn.

De Verthelyi's (1995) qualitative study on international students' spouses' cross-cultural

adjustment can be viewed as an initial, in-depth approach to explore the maj or characteristics and

expectations of this population, while primarily investigating pre-arrival dimensions such as

choice and decision-making, psychological preparedness and having a personal proj ect for the

sojourn, as well as early adjustment dimensions such as financial status, English proficiency and











APPENDIX D
PARTICIPANT LETTER


Invitatiorn (Email message to be forwardled to spouses of international students)

Dear P~articipant:

I amn Monica Bigler, an internlational student from Switzerland. In 1995, I came to the
United States as a spouse of an international student. Since 1998, I have been studying
for my PhD in C~ounseling Psychology. I am conducting a research study to understand
the experience of spouses of international students while living in the Ulnited States.

I am requesting your participation in this research, which will involve approximately 30-
45 minutes to fill out an on-line questionnaire. T'he results of this study will be used to
help design services fo~r spouses of international students.

If you are a spouse of an international student and years old or older, your participation is
greatly appreciated. Please go to the following website address and complete the survey
packet:

WEBSITE'~ ADDRESS

If you~ have any questions regarding the research study, please call me at (352) 3.59-01322.

Thank you very much fo~r your assistance with this research.

Sincerely,

Monica Bigler, M.S., MAMC
Doctor~al C'andlidate
Department of P'sychology
Psychology Building
University of F'lorida
G;ainesville. FL 326,11














Approved by
University of Florida
institutional Review Board 02
Protocol # 2006-U-0631
For Use Through 07/10/2007










Cohen, S., & Wills, T.A. (1985). Stress, social support, and the buffering hypothesis.
Psychological Bulletin, 98(2), 310-357.

Constantine, M. G., Okazaki,S., & Utsey, S.O. (2004). Self-concealment, social self-
efficacy, acculturative stress, and depression in African, Asian, and Latin
American international college students. American Journal of O; thopsy h1, LIian yl
74(3), 230-241.

Copeland, A.P., & Norell, S.K. (2002). Spousal adjustment on international assignments:
The role of social support. International Journal oflntercultural Relations, 26,
255-272.

Costa, P.T., & McCrae, R.R. (1998). Personality assessment. In H.S. Friedman (Ed.),
Encyclopedia ofmental health (Vol. 3). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Darlington, R.B. (1990). Regression and linear models. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Day, L.E. (2003). Culture shock and beyond: The experiences of foreign wives of foreign
graduate students and postdoctora~lfellows sojourning at Rutgers University.
Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Rutgers University, New Jersey.

De Leon, C.T., & McPartlin, D. (1995). Adjustment of expatriate children. In J. Selmer
(Ed.), Expatriate management: New ideas for international business (pp. 357-
394). Connecticut: Quorum Books.

Derogatis, L.R., & Melisartos, N. (1983). The Brief Symptoms Inventory: An
introductory report. Psychological M~edicine, 13(3), 595-605.

De Verthelyi, R.F. (1995). International students' spouses: Invisible sojourners in
the culture shock literature. International Journal oflntercultural Relations,
19(3), 387-411.

Fowler, S.M., & Silberstein, F. (1989). Intercultural adjustment of families living abroad.
In D.R. Koslow, & E.P. Salett (Eds.), Crossing cultures in mental health (pp. 119-
134).Washington, DC: Sietar International.

Frazier, P. A., Tix, A.P., & Barron, K.E. (2004). Testing moderator and mediator effects
in counseling psychology research. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 51(1),
115-134.

Friedrich, R.J. (1982). In defense of multiplicative terms in multiple regression equations.
American Journal of Political Science, 26, 797-833.

Fukuda, K.J., & Chu, P. (1994). Wrestling with expatriate family problems. Japanese
experiences in East Asia. International Studies of2anagement and
Organizations, 24, 36-47.









The ASSIS consists of 36 items scored on a 7-point Likert scale (1=Strongly disagree to

7= Strongly agree). Sandhu and Asrabadi (1994) extracted six factors and one non specific factor

using a principal components analysis, accounting for 70.6% of the total explained variance in

their survey research. The seven factors are Perceived Discrimination (3 8.30% of variance),

Homesickness (9.0%), Perceived Hate (7.20%), Fear (6. 10%), Stress due to change/cultural

shock (3.70%), Guilt (3.20%), and Nonspecific (3.10%). It has been reported that ASSIS has

internal consistency scores ranging from .87 to .95 for total items measured by Cronbach's alpha

(Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1994; Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1998; Yeh & Inose, 2003). The ASSIS scale has

been used in a limited number of studies on acculturative stress; thus psychometric data is

limited. In previous studies, however, ASSIS scores were correlated in expected directions with

independent measures of English fluency, depression, and social support (Constantine et al.,

2004; Ye, 2005; Yeh & Inoseh, 2003). For the current study, the internal consistency reliability

(Cronbach' s alpha) of the ASSIS scale was .93. Previous research using the ASSIS with

populations other than international students included Korean immigrants (Oh, Koeske, & Sales,

2002); however, internal consistency reliability data remained unreported.

This instrument was chosen by the researcher since it taps into the main themes of cross-

cultural adjustment difficulties experienced by spouses of international students as reported in

qualitative surveys on this population (De Verthelyi, 1995; Schwartz & Kahne, 2003; Vogel,

1986). Sandhu and Asrabadi (1994) encourage the use of the scale' s total score with higher

scores indicating greater acculturative stress perceived by the respondents. The authors further

suggest the employment of subscale scores when researchers are investigating specific sources of

acculturative stress. For the purpose of this study, the global score was used.









allowed to seek employment authorization, but only if the employment does not have the

potential to financially support the primary visa holder (U. S. Department of State, 2006).

Naturally, in a family with children, financial difficulties may multiply. De Verthelyi

(1995) reported spouses' perception of financial status as a complex comparison of pre-arrival

expectations, former and current lifestyle, and future prospects.

Stress related to husband's academic progress

Student soj ourner' s acculturation stress has often been related to the extent to which they

are academically successful (Church, 1982; Misra et al., 2003). Academic performance relates

directly to the student's overall academic progress in the program and consequently length of

stay; the extent to which fellowship, scholarships, and assistantships can be secured and

maintained; as well as possible spill-over effects from academic strain into the relationship

(Chang, 1994). As prescribed by their visa status, spouses are equally dependent on their

partner' s academic performance. Most authors on spousal adjustment point to the dependence on

the husband's academic career experienced by accompanying spouses. For example, Lo (1993)

and Shao (2001) point to the drastic career changes wives in their studies had undergone. Shao

(2001) states that her interviewees were highly educated women who, upon arrival in the U.S.,

faced uncertain and temporarily replaced career goals, which were largely redefined by the

educational aspirations of their husbands. In turn, these women experienced hypervigilance

toward their husband's academic performance, often causing "grief and resentment" (p. 17).

Occupational and homemaker role reward value

Arriving in the United States with an F-2 or a J-2 visa implies serious restrictions upon a

spouse' s career path. In her account of the spouses' experience while soj ourning in the U. S., Day

(2003) mentions themes such as joblessness and the difference between a woman' s home

identities and distinct foreign identities. Day concludes in her analysis that during their stay in









however under limited circumstances. The U.S. Department of State (2006) notes that "the

spouse and/or children of an exchange visitor in the U.S. may not work in J-2 status. If

employment is desired, the appropriate work visa will be required." Spouses who wish to work

have to prove that the additional income is not to support the J-1 student. Employment can only

be sought for "J-2 travel, recreational, or cultural activities" (MIT Intemnational Scholars Office,

2007).

Demographic Profile of International Students and Spouses

The numbers and demographic make-up of spouses of international students in the United

States can be inferred only indirectly from official data on international students (see below).

The focus of this study was on female spouses of international students since the number of male

spouses was found to be significantly smaller (De Verthelyi, 1995). The following information

describes demographic characteristics of international students in the United States. Wherever

possible, data on spouses of international students will be integrated.

Gender and marital status

According to the 2005 Open Doors report, 59.9% of international graduate students were

male and 40. 1% female. Further, 22.5% of international graduate students were married,

compared with 4.9% of international undergraduate students who were married (IIE, 2005). A

gender breakdown as to how many spouses are male versus female cannot be determined from

national report data. Estimates are that a significantly larger number of spouses of international

students are female rather than male (De Verthelyi, 1995). According to U.S. Immigration and

Customs Enforcement statistical data, there were 71,969 F-2 student dependents and 45,337 J-2

dependent visa holders residing in the U.S. as of September 30, 2004. This number includes

foreign nationals who are either a spouse or a child of an F-1 visa holder, while a breakdown

indicating gender or percentage of spouses and children is not provided (SEVIS, 2005).




Full Text

PAGE 1

1 EXPLORATORY STUDY OF DISTRESS AMONG SPOUSES OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS By MONIKA BIGLER A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2007

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2 2007 Monika Bigler

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3 To my father.

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I extend m y deepest gratitude to my chair, Dr Greg J. Neimeyer, and to the members of my supervisory committee (Dr. Ken Rice, Dr Mary Fukuyama, Dr. Jeff Farrar, and Dr. Churchill Roberts) for guiding me through the process of completing this study, for their experience, wisdom, sincere support and keen ment oring. I also would like to thank the staff of the Psychology Department at the University of Florida, in particular Mr. Jim Yousse, Mr. Michael LeGrande, Ms. Sarah Lee, and Ms. Amanda Foote, for th eir technical and administrative assistance. Further, I would like to thank all of those who have helped me along the way, for their inspiration, guidance, and solidarity. I especially w ould like to thank Dr. W. Keith Berg, Dr. Kathrin Fenner, Dr. Cynthia Fuller, Dr. Susanna Gallor, Ms. Olga Kostromytska, Dr. James Lyda, Dr. Viktor Mergel, Mr. Jeff Rosier, and Dr. Denise Wy ttenbach, and the women who participated in this study for a ssisting me in the process of co mpleting this work. I also would like to thank Ms. Donna Bierbach, Dr. Matthi as Daniel Caraco, Dr Chun-Chung Choi, Dr. James Deyrup, Ms. Maude (Sheila) Fraser, Dr. LaTrelle Jacks on, Dr. Mirka Koro-Ljunberg, Dr. Heidi Levitt, Dr. Anca Mirsu-Paun, Dr. Lauren Pasquarella Daley, Mr. Scott Coleman Miller, Mr. John Petrocelli, Ms. Leslie A. Owen, Ms. L ou Powers, Ms. Sarah Prior, Ms. Leticia Solaun, Dr. Salina Renninger, Mr. Micha Schiwow, Dr. He rb Steier, Dr. Howard E.A. (Tony) Tinsley, Ms. Jean Underwood, the Documentary Institute faculty, Dr. Sandra Dickson, Ms. Cynthia Hill and Ms. Carla Pilson, as well as Billy, Isabelle, and Mercury Bigl er for their past and present support. Finally, and most importantly, my most sincere gratitude is ex tended to Ms. Barbara Strm, whose contributions made this project possible.

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF TABLES................................................................................................................. ..........8 LIST OF FIGURES.........................................................................................................................9 ABSTRACT...................................................................................................................................10 CHAP TER 1 INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................................12 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE.................................................................................................16 Characteristics of Spouses of International Students..............................................................16 Definition.........................................................................................................................16 Demographic Profile of Intern ational Students and Spouses .......................................... 17 Gender and marital status......................................................................................... 17 Numbers of internationa l students and degrees ........................................................ 18 Significance of international student fa milies for U.S. higher education................ 19 Sojourner Adjustment........................................................................................................... ..20 Introduction................................................................................................................... ..20 Models of Adjustment in the Sojourn Literature.............................................................23 Cultural learning approach.......................................................................................23 Stress and coping approach...................................................................................... 24 Adjustment Literature on Spouses of International Students................................................. 27 Overview.........................................................................................................................27 Studies on Spouses of International Students.................................................................. 28 Potential Stressors Faced by Spouses of International Students.....................................32 Acculturative stress.................................................................................................. 32 Language fluency.....................................................................................................34 Financial concerns.................................................................................................... 35 Stress related to husbands academic progress........................................................ 36 Occupational and homemaker role reward value..................................................... 36 Stress Buffers...................................................................................................................37 Social support...........................................................................................................37 Marital satisfaction................................................................................................... 40 Summary.................................................................................................................................41 Primary Hypotheses............................................................................................................. ...41 Secondary Hypotheses........................................................................................................... .42 Exploratory Research Questions............................................................................................. 43

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6 3 METHOD......................................................................................................................... ......44 Participants.............................................................................................................................44 Instruments.................................................................................................................... .........47 Demographic Questionnaire............................................................................................ 47 Acculturative Stress......................................................................................................... 47 English Fluency...............................................................................................................49 Financial Concerns.......................................................................................................... 49 Stress Related to Husbands Academic Progress............................................................50 Occupational and Homemaker Role Reward Value........................................................ 50 Social Support.................................................................................................................51 Marital Satisfaction......................................................................................................... 52 Psychological Distress..................................................................................................... 52 Additional Measures............................................................................................................ ...53 Number of Goals for the Sojourn.................................................................................... 53 Simultaneous versus Separate Arrival............................................................................. 54 Decision-Making about Sojourn...................................................................................... 54 Presence of Spouses Programs........................................................................................ 54 4 RESULTS...............................................................................................................................55 Preliminary and Descriptive Analyses.................................................................................... 55 Regression Diagnostics................................................................................................... 55 Examination of Potential Covariates............................................................................... 56 Descriptive Statistics....................................................................................................... 57 Statistical Analyses and Test Hypotheses ............................................................................... 58 Primary Research Questions and Hypotheses................................................................. 58 Testing for Moderator Effects......................................................................................... 58 Hierarchical Multiple Regression Analysis..................................................................... 59 Secondary Research Questions and Hypotheses............................................................. 60 Exploratory Research Questions..................................................................................... 61 5 DISCUSSION.........................................................................................................................73 Goals for the Study.................................................................................................................73 Interpretations of Results........................................................................................................74 Primary Research Questions............................................................................................ 74 Acculturative stress and psychological distress .......................................................74 The moderating role of social support and m arital satisfaction............................... 76 Social support and marital satisfaction: a comparison............................................. 84 Secondary Research Questions........................................................................................ 86 English fluency.........................................................................................................86 Financial concern..................................................................................................... 87 Husband academic progress..................................................................................... 88 Number of goals for the sojourn.............................................................................. 89

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7 Exploratory Research Questions..................................................................................... 90 Simultaneous versus separate arrival....................................................................... 90 Decision making about sojourn................................................................................ 91 Presence of spouses programs.................................................................................. 92 Occupational and homemaker role reward value..................................................... 93 Moderator effects.....................................................................................................93 Limitations.................................................................................................................... ..........94 Final Conclusions...................................................................................................................94 Implications for Practice...................................................................................................... ...96 Future Research......................................................................................................................99 APPENDIX A DEMOGRAPHIC QUESTIONNAIRE................................................................................ 102 B INFORMED CONSENT FORM.......................................................................................... 104 C IRB PROTOCOL.................................................................................................................. 105 D PARTICIPANT LETTER....................................................................................................106 E PARTICIPANT FLYER.......................................................................................................107 REFERENCE LIST.....................................................................................................................108 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.......................................................................................................117

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8 LIST OF TABLES Table page 4 1 VIF and tolerance statistics for predic tor variab les acculturative stress, social support, and marital satisfaction in hi erarchical multiple regression models.................... 65 4 2 Intercorrelations among primary variables........................................................................ 66 4 3 Intercorrelations among acculturative st ress, social support, m arital satisfaction, psychological distress and secondary variables................................................................. 67 4 4 Boxs M tests of covariance homogeneity for spouses region of origin, length of stay, visa type, and pres ence/absence of children .............................................................. 68 4 5 Mean, standard deviation, and alpha coe fficient for prim ary and secondary variables..... 69 4 6 Hierarchical regression summary of psychological distre ss regressed onto acculturativ e stress and social support............................................................................... 70 4 7 Hierarchical regression summary of psychological distre ss regressed onto acculturativ e stress and ma rital dissatisfaction.................................................................. 71

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9 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 4 1 Predicted psychological distress m eans by acculturative stres s and marital dissatisfaction.....................................................................................................................72 5 1 Predicted ps ychological distress means by acculturative stress and marital dissatisfaction. Original BSI-scale................................................................................... 101

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10 Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy EXPLORATORY STUDY OF DISTRESS AMONG SPOUSES OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS By Monika Bigler December 2007 Chair: Greg J. Neimeyer Major: Counseling Psychology Female spouses of internationa l students who enter the United States on a de pendent visa status experience a unique set of challenges wh ile accompanying their husbands abroad. Over the past five decades, international students have become a significant presence on United States university campuses, with approximately 565,000 in ternational students from over 180 countries recorded in 2004. Survey data show that approxi mately 23% of international graduate students are married, and 85% of married international studen ts arrive for their soj ourn in the company of their spouse or partner. While inte rnational students have attracted considerable research interest and represent one of the most in tensely studied populations in the culture contact literature, spouses of international students have received comparativ ely little attention. This study of 134 female spouses of intern ational students examined the relationship between spouses acculturative stress and psycho logical distress as well as the role of social support and marital satisfaction as potential mode rators in the link betw een acculturative stress and psychological distress. It also tested addi tional exploratory questions related to spousal adjustment, including English fluency, financia l concerns, stress related to husbands academic progress, goals for the sojourn, and occupational a nd homemaker role reward value. Participants

PAGE 11

11 were solicited by a combination of email, lette rs, and flyers sent to international student organization and programs at 45 U.S. universities with the la rgest number of international students. Results of hierarchical regression analyses revealed a positive relationship between acculturative stress and psychologi cal distress. High and low levels of marital satisfaction moderated the relationship between acculturative stress and psychological distress while social support did not. Results of expl oratory research questions showed, among others, a positive relationship between the amount of spouses support programs offered by their husbands universities and spouses levels of perceived social support. Re sults are addressed by discussing challenges faced by spouses of international studen ts, the role of marital relationship as well as the necessity and nature of programs offered to spouses and internati onal couples during their sojourn.

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12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Over the pas t five decades, international st udents have become a significant presence on United States university campuses, with approxi mately 565,000 international students from over 180 countries recorded in 2004, according to the Op en Doors report (Institute of International Education, 2005). Notably, 22.5% of international gr aduate students who enter the United States were married, based on the Open Doors data. Wh ile international students have attracted considerable research interest and represent one of the most in tensely studied populations in the culture contact lite rature, spouses of international student s have received comparatively little attention. Several researchers have proposed reasons for the absence of spouses in the cross-cultural literature, among them their invisibility on uni versity campuses due to the lack of assigned tasks or goals for their soj ourn (De Verthelyi, 1995, p. 389), as well as spouses being institutionally unconnected and therefore of no direct interest to college administrators (Schwartz & Kahne, 1993). On the other hand, authors have poi nted to the impact that the presence of spouses may have on the well-being of the accompan ied international students, such as providing a social and emotional support system. These authors have also called for further research in this area in order to provide culturally sensitive counse ling services to both international students and their families alike (Bradley, 2000; Furnham, 2004; Mallinckrodt & Leong, 1992; Pedersen, 1991; Yoon & Portman, 2004). One of the primary characteristics of the spous es stay in the United States is their role being contingent on the partne rs academic plans and career aspirations (Schwartz & Kahne, 1993; Vogel, 1985). While several visa types allow fo r student entry to the U.S., the majority of international students carry an F-1 or a J-1 student visa (IIE, 2005) Spouses are eligible to join

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13 the sojourn as F-2 or J-2 visa holders if they can document a legal marriage between members of the opposite sex. Girlfriends/boyfriends, fiances, same-sex partners (even if in a marriage legally recognized in other countries), or comm on-law (i.e., unmarried) li ving arrangements are not recognized as being eligible for a dependent status by United States government agencies (U.S. Department of State, 2006). It is noteworthy that F-2 visa holders are unable to seek work or enroll as degree-seeking stude nts. Similarly, they may volunteer only if the position in which they are interested in has always been a volunt eer position, and always will be. Evidently, their stay in the U.S. is entirely dependent on that of the principal alien. If th e F-1 student leaves the country, even for an extended vacation term, the F2 individual must leave as well. Similarly, J-2 dependents are not allowed to seek employment that has the poten tial to financially support the primary visa holder (U.S. Department of State, 2006). Previously, a limited number of qualitative studi es have investigated issues surrounding the sojourn of international st udent spouses. Some of the topics addressed were pre-arrival dimensions and early adjustment processes (De Verthe lyi, 1995), adjustment difficulties and support for foreign student wives in university settings (Schwarz & Kahne, 1993; Vogel, 1986), the description of a model community program to acclimate spouses of international students (Ojo, 1998), marital relationships of Taiwanese couples during their sojourn (Chang, 2004), and Chinese wives perceptions of their lives in the U.S. (Lo, 1993; Shao, 2001). Despite these authors descriptions of great variability am ong spouses, with some individuals experiencing easier adaptation and a more rela xed lifestyle in thei r new role than in their home country, investigators have unanimously underscored th e oftentimes challenging tasks accompanying spouses may face when following their partners abroad. Some of these challenges include acculturative stress (e.g., homesickness/loneliness ethnic/racial discrimination, stress due to

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14 cultural differences, and guilt for leaving family and relatives behind), language and financial difficulties, and significant career-related ro le changes, among others. Notably, whereas international students have prescribed roles as students within the university system and a network of academic support in the form of advi sors, area colleagues, and fellow national and international students, spouses have limited acces s to the university system and may therefore experience a strong disruption of their personal and professional lives upon their sojourn (De Verthelyi, 1995; Schwartz & Kahne, 1993; Vogel, 1985). The purpose of this study was to examine th e impact of acculturative stress, English language fluency, financial concerns, and stre ss related to husbands academic progress on spousal psychological adjustment. Further, this study examined the potentially buffering effects of social support and marital satisfaction in the link between these stressors and spouses psychological adjustment. In addition and due to the exploratory nature of this project, a number of tentative questions were tested as well. Chapter two will provide an overview of the literature, including a profile of international students and spouses. Further, the literature revi ew will outline major theories and research on sojourner and spouse adjustment primarily fr om a stress and coping framework. Acculturative stress (Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1994) will be descri bed, along with the impact of spouses English language fluency, financial concerns, and stress related to husbands academic progress. In addition, the roles of social support and marital satisfaction as poten tial coping strate gies will be discussed. Primary and secondary research questi ons and hypotheses will be presented at the end of the second chapter, followed by exploratory questions. Chapter three will cover data collection, sample description, and instruments used. Chapter four will present the data analyses. Finally, chap ter five will discuss the results of the study and

PAGE 15

15 their implications, along with limitations, final co nclusions, implications for practice, and future directions for research.

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16 CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE This chapter provides an overview of topics in relation to the propos ed study. The review will cover literatu re on sojourner adjustment in general and on spouse cross-cultural adjustment in particular. Profiles of inte rnational students and spouses, as well as sources of spouses acculturative stress and psychological adjustment dur ing the sojourn in the United States will be explored, along with English language fluency, financial concerns, and stress related to husbands academic progress. Social support and mar ital satisfaction will be discussed in relation to their role as possible moderators of stress on psychological adjustment. Characteristics of Spouses of International Students Definition For the purpose of this study, spouses of international students are defined as m arried partners of internationa l students who have originally arrived in the United States under an F-2 or J-2 dependent visa and are cu rrent F-2 or J-2 visa holders. Th ere are several possibilities as to how student couples might arrive in the United States: First, a couple might be married in their home country with one spouse coming to the United States with a student visa (F-1/J-1), while the other arrives under a dependent visa (F-2/J-2), with partners arriving either simultaneously or independently. Second, the couple arrives with bo th students having applied for student status prior to arrival and thus both coming to the Unite d States as internationa l students (F-1/J-1). And thirdly, international students (F-1/J-1) may meet their future spouse while residing in the United States whereas the partner may or may not be an international student (Chang, 2004). Due to their immigration status, F-2 visa holde rs are restricted from working and studying in the United States, and they are allowed to volunteer only under limited circumstances (U.S. Department of State, 2006). J-2 visa holders, on the other hand, ar e allowed to seek employment,

PAGE 17

17 however under limited circumstances. The U.S. Department of State (20 06) notes that the spouse and/or children of an exchange visitor in the U.S. may not work in J-2 status. If employment is desired, the appropriate work visa will be required. Spouses who wish to work have to prove that the additional income is not to support the J-1 student. Employment can only be sought for J-2 travel, recreati onal, or cultural activ ities (MIT Interna tional Scholars Office, 2007). Demographic Profile of International Students and Spouses The num bers and demographic make-up of spouses of international students in the United States can be inferred only indirectly from official data on international students (see below). The focus of this study was on female spouses of international students si nce the number of male spouses was found to be significantly smaller (D e Verthelyi, 1995). The following information describes demographic characteristics of international students in the United States. Wherever possible, data on spouses of international students will be integrated. Gender and marital status According to the 2005 Open Doors report, 59.9% of international grad uate students were male and 40.1% female. Further, 22.5% of in ternational graduate students were married, compared with 4.9% of international undergradu ate students who were married (IIE, 2005). A gender breakdown as to how many spouses are male versus female cannot be determined from national report data. Estimates are that a significantly larger number of spouses of international students are female rather than male (De Vert helyi, 1995). According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement statistical data, there were 71,969 F-2 st udent dependents and 45,337 J-2 dependent visa holders residing in the U.S. as of September 30, 2004. This number includes foreign nationals who are either a spouse or a child of an F-1 visa holder, while a breakdown indicating gender or percentage of spouses and children is not provided (SEVIS, 2005).

PAGE 18

18 Numbers of international students and degrees According to the 2005 Open Doors report on intern ational student excha nge data, a total of 565,000 international students were enrolled in Un ited States higher educa tion institutions during the 2004/2005 academic years, of which 274,000 attended graduate school (IIE, 2005). During the 2004/2005 academic years, the areas of study with highest enrollment by international graduate students in the U.S. were: Engin eering (23.8%), Business and Management (14.9%), Physical and Life Sciences ( 13.3%), Math/Computer Sciences (11.4%), and Social Sciences (9%). International gradua te students obtained 14% of all mast ers level degrees and 25% of all doctoral level degrees conferred in 2002/03, while 3% of all undergraduate degrees were awarded to international stude nts (National Center for Edu cation Statistics, 2004). For both masters and doctoral level degrees, international students were the la rgest group after White non-Hispanic students (IIE, 2005). The overall percentage of international studen ts attending higher e ducation institutions increased steadily over the past decade (IIE, 2005). Only recently the growth rate of international students diminished, such as by 1.3% in 2004/ 2005 from the previous 2003/2004 academic years, while for international graduate stude nts alone, the U.S. saw a drop of 3.6%. The 2005 Open Doors report stated that the reasons for a decrease in intern ational students at U.S. higher education institutions are several, among them the real and perceived difficulties in obtaining student visas (), rising U.S. tuition costs, vigorous recruitment activities by other Englishspeaking nations, and perceptions abroad that it is more difficult for international students to come to the United States (IIE, 2005). According to reports by the Institute of In ternational Education (2005), international students attending U.S. higher ed ucation institutions originate from more than 180 countries. Leading countries in 2004 included India (80,500 ), China (62,500), Republic of Korea (53,400),

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19 Japan (42,200), Canada (28,100), Taiwan (25,900) Mexico (13,000), Turkey (12,500), Germany (8,600), and Thailand (8,600). According to SEVI S (2005) data, the top numbers for F-2 visa holders came from the Republic of Korea ( 32,976), China (15,489), Japan (7,341), India (6,448), and Taiwan (2,786). These numbers do not diffe rentiate between spouses and dependent children. A breakdown of J-2 visa holders by countries was not provided (SEVIS, 2005). During the 2004/2005 academic year, the following universities hoste d the largest number of international students : University of Southern Californi a, Los Angeles (6,800; 23% of total student enrollment), University of Illinoi s at Urbana-Champaign (5,600; 14% of total enrollment), and University of Texas at Aus tin (5,300; 11% of tota l enrollment) (IIE, 2005). Significance of international student families for U.S. higher education Over the past 50 years, the United States has attracted students from all over the world to pursue training and research in various academic fields. While venturing abroad for academic studies has been a longstanding tradition for many countries and is common in numerous research areas, the United States has become a center for advanced technology and scholarly pursuits with more international students enrolled at U.S. universities than in any other nation (IIE, 2005). While the presence of international students promotes cultural and educational exchange both during their stay in the Unite d States as well as upon their return to their homeland, foreign students attendance at higher education institutio ns has also become part of a commercial industry in the United States. In 2005/06, net cont ributions to U.S. econo my by foreign students and their families was $13.491 billion, spent on tuiti on, living expenses, and related costs (Open Doors Special Report, 2007). Similarly, the Open Doors Special Report (2007) estimated net contributions to the U.S. economy by foreign student dependents of up to $432 million in 2005/06. Ward, Bochner, and Furnham (2001) have noted that although there is some resistance

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20 by traditional academics to the notion that they ar e now part of a commer cial industry and that functionally students have become clients, there is no turning b ack. Many institutions have now become utterly dependent on the income genera ted in this way (p. 145). Not surprisingly, intense competition exists among countries such as Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, with each country devoting considerable resources to attract international students to their higher education institutions (Ward, et al., 2001). At least partially, previous studies on international students adjustment ought to be seen in the co ntext of this trend with the goal to provide competitive services for international students along with promoting and enhancing students well-being during their sojourn. By the same t oken, some universities have recognized the importance of paying attention to families of international students and have begun offering services to spouses of intern ational students such as free la nguage, community, and family programs (Bradley, 2000; Furnham, 2004; Yoon & Portman, 2004). Nevertheless, the well-being of accompanying family members has received comparatively little attention, despite the potential impact that both the presence and adju stment of spouses may have on international student academic progress and retention (Furnham, 2004). Sojourner Adjustment Introduction A sojourn can be defined as a tem porary stay in a new place (Ward et al. 2001, p. 143). The length of stay may vary depending on the as signment but is commonly described as between 6 months to five years, and the stay is of volunt ary nature with the intent to ultimately return home. Ward et al. (2001) list a variety of sojourner categories including expatriate business people, diplomats, members of the armed for ces, students, volunteers, aid workers, and missionaries (p. 143). These authors are stressing the importance of rapid sojourner adjustment to a host culture in order for th e individual to function effectivel y in his or her newly assumed

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21 educational or occupational posi tion (Church, 1982; Furnham, 2004; Pedersen, 1991; Ward et al. 2001). The majority of research on sojourner adjustme nt has focused on international students and business individuals alike, with a steady increase of publications in these areas over the past 30 years (Black, 1988; Church, 1982; 1990; Ward et al ., 2001). While there is a significant lack of empirical studies devoted to the well-being of spouses of international students, some attention has recently been given to examining the de terminants of intercultural adjustment among expatriate spouses, i.e., husbands and wives of business people assigned to work abroad (Ali, Van der Zee, & Sanders, 2003; Black & Gregersen, 1991). Several authors within the expatriate literature have noted that the ad aptation of expatriate business i ndividuals seems to be affected by the adaptation of their spouses to the forei gn country, and negative adjustment among spouses may in turn have a diminishing impact on the ex patriates work perfor mance during his or her foreign assignment (Ali et al., 2003; De Leon & McPartlin, 1 995; Solomon, 1996; Storti, 2001; Takeuchi, Yun, & Tesluk, 2002). Black and Gregerse n (1991) concluded that spousal adjustment appears to be a crucial factor as to how successf ully an expatriate carries out his or her global work assignment. For example, Black and Step hens (1989) reported a st rong correlation between adjustment levels of expatriates and their s pouses. The authors furthe r discussed the negative relationship between both partners level of adjustment and the expatriates intent to return home prematurely. Similarly, Fukuda a nd Chun (1994) discussed a couples family situation as one of the aspects that determined failure among Japa nese expatriates. Further, a study by Shaffer (1996) showed that spousal adjustment had a moderating role in th e relationship between expatriates intention to withdraw from the bus iness assignment and their commitment to remain in the position. Lastly, Storti (2001) noted that sp ouses have to adjust more than the expatriate

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22 employees due to their unique situation. Lack of work opportunities, no structure in daily routines, loneliness, as well as resentment towa rd the move are among the adjustment issues the author cites. Similar circumstances and factors might easily hold true for international students and their families while sojourning in the United States; however, no empirical studies have been noted in this area (Furnham, 2004). International studen ts leave their familiar surroundings and start a new, albeit temporary existence in the United St ates. With almost a quarter of international graduate students being of married status, it is easy to imagine th at the transition may be difficult for all accompanying family members. While num erous studies have documented the challenges that international students face upon arrival in a foreign host count ry, some authors point to the fact that the cross-cultu ral adjustment of spouses may be even more difficult or challenging in its own way (De Verthelyi, 1995). Evid ently, while students find some continuity and a network of colleagues, advisors, and mentors, their respective spouses may experience a strong disruption of their personal and vocational life upon arrival. Sim ilar to expatriate spouses, they also frequently do not receive structural support for coping with the immediate demands of their new surroundings (Ali, et al., 2003; De Leon & Mc Partlin, 1995; De Verthe lyi, 1995; Yi, Lin, & Kishimoto, 2003; Yoon & Portman, 2004). Further, in describing the counseling needs and resources for international students, references have been made to the importance of paying attention to the social network of internati onal students, including the accompanying family members (Chang, 2004; Furnham, 2004; Yi et al. 2003; Yoon & Portman, 2004). Apart from one qualitative dissertation exam ining the marital relationship of four Taiwanese international student couples in the Un ited States, little attention has been given to marital status of international students (Chang, 2004). Most recently, Poyrazli, Arbona,

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23 Bullinton, & Pisecco (2001) included marital stat us as a variable in their examination of adjustment issues of Turkish college students in th e U.S. The authors reported that marital status was significantly related to perc eived level of social support in their sample. Similarly, in their survey of utilization by interna tional students of counseling servi ces at a major university in Texas, Yi et al. (2003) found that 16.9% of participants indicated being married. In their survey, relationship with romantic partner was listed as one of the top three co ncerns for international graduate students among the participants. Models of Adjustment in the Sojourn Literature W ith a vast array of empirical studies on cross-cultural adjustment conducted in the past, two theoretical approaches, the cultural learning approach and the stress and coping approach, have become strongly established in the sojo urn literature and are broadly accepted as the guiding forces in the field (Ward et al., p. 37) Ward and colleagues have made an effort to bring together these two leading theoretical a pproaches in their rese arch program and have concluded that researchers ought to consider two separate outcomes to the acculturative process: psychological and socio-cultura l adjustment (Searle & Ward, 1990; Ward, 1996; Ward & Kennedy, 1994). The authors have discussed that, despite being interrela ted, these two models are predicted by different variables and can be s een as conceptually distinct (Searle & Ward, 1990; Ward & Kennedy, 1994). Cultural learning approach The cultural learning approach specifies that adaptation occurs in the form of learning culture-specific skills necessary to function in a new cultural environment from a mainly behavioral viewpoint (Bochner, 1986; Furnham & Bochner, 1982) Consequently, socio-cultural adjustment is influenced by culture contact variab les such as the quantity and quality of contact with hosts, as well previous cross-cultural expe rience and pre-arrival training (Searle & Ward,

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24 1990; Ward et al., 2001; Ward & Rana-Deuba, 2000). Studies conducte d employing a cultural learning approach have investigat ed variables such as knowledge about the new culture (Pruitt, 1978; Ward & Searle, 1991), leng th of residence in the host culture (Ward, Okura, Kennedy, & Kojima, 1998), previous experience abroad (Klineberg & Hull, 1979), and cultural distance (Ward & Kennedy, 1994). According to Ward et al. (2001), socio-cultural adjustment is relatively predictable as it improve s quickly in the earliest stages of the cross-cultural encounter, reaches a plateau, and then tends to remain stable. Stress and coping approach In comparison, the stress and coping model rega rds cross-cultural transitions as a sequence of stressful changes that necessitate adequate coping strategies by the individual (Ward et al., 2001). Stress and coping theories have focuse d on identifying factors that contribute as significant stressors and may hinder adaptation in a culturally different environment. Even though sojourners have been studied from a vari ety of theoretical perspectives, the stress and coping framework is presently th e most popular approach to exam ine cross-cultural adaptation and serves as the theoretical foundation empl oyed in the present study (Berry, 1997; Lee, Koeske, & Sales, 2004; Misra, Crist, & Bu rant, 2003; Ward, 1996; Ward & Kennedy, 2001; Ward, et al., 2001). The stress and coping approach views the contri butors to cross-cultural adjustment similar to factors involved in ad apting to other life experiences i nvolving transitions and it highlights the importance of potential stre ssors, coping mechanisms, and the respective physical and mental health outcomes of the individual in transi tion (Thoits, 1995; Ward et al., 2001; Yang & Clum, 1994). Within the cross-cultural l iterature, this approach has b een particularly influenced by Lazarus and Folkmans (1984) work on stress, ap praisal, and coping, and by Holmes and Rahes (1967) research on impacts of life events.

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25 According to Thoits (1995), stress or s tressors are any environmental, social, or internal demands that require an individual to ad apt his or her behavior. The literature identifies three major ways of conceptualizing stressors: life events, chronic st rains and daily hassles. Apart from the cultural relocati on counting as a major life even t, spouses of international students also face several chronic strains involve d with their relocation from a home country, adjusting to a new physical and social environment, and the challenges that arise from their specific situation, including their inability to work or study (De Verthelyi, 1995). In the stress literature, soci al support is commonly conceptu alized as a coping resource, i.e., a social fund people may access when confronting stressors (Thoits, 1995, p. 64). It is usually defined as supportive functions performed for the individual by signi ficant others such as family members, friends, and co lleagues (Thoits, 1995). Reviews of the lite rature show that perceived emotional support is a ssociated with increas ed physical and psychological well-being and normally buffers the harmful impacts of major life events and chr onic strains on physical and mental health, while social integration, i. e., the actual support network, does not (Cohen & Wills, 1985; Thoits, 1995). Authors have also discussed the complexity of stress-related outcomes, including mental and physical health symptoms (Aneshensel, 1992; Holmes & Rahe, 1967; Thoits, 1995). A variety of outcome measures have been used to assess the adjustment of sojourners. Aspects of psychological well-being and satisfaction have been shown to be central to most of the models proposed in the cross-cultural adaptation lite rature, and they have included measures of depression (Constantine, Okazaki, & Utsey, 2004; Rahman & Rollock, 2004; Searle & Ward, 1990; Ward & Kennedy, 1994), suicide ideation (Yang & Clum, 1995), acculturative stress

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26 (Poyrazli et al., 2004; Yeh & Inoseh, 2003), gene ral well-being (Chao, 1999), and a combination of affective, behavioral, and cogniti ve reactions (Mis ra et al., 2003). Authors have also emphasized the distinction between an earlier, medical model of crosscultural transition and the stress and coping model (Furnha m & Bochner, 1982; Ward et al., 2001; Yoon & Portman, 2004). While the medical view presupposes the outcome of cultural transition as unavoidably nega tive and pathologic al, the stress and coping approach acknowledges the presence of stre ssors yet emphasizes possible co ping mechanisms. Further, the stress and coping approach conceptu alizes the transition from a more social perspective, i.e., it takes socio-cultural and interperso nal factors such as social s upport into account (Ward et al., 2001). Literature further suggests that sojourner psychological adjustment takes the shape of a Ucurve (Church, 1982; Lysgaard, 1955), where an initial short, up to 6-month, period of excitement (honeymoon stage) is followed by a 6-18-month phase characterized by adjustment difficulties (culture shock/disillusionment stage). Finally, after developing the skills to cope with these difficulties, sojourners, according to this model, reach a final stage of positive adjustment (adaptation stage) (Church, 1982; Ward et al., 2001). There has been evidence both in favor and against the U-curve hypothesis (Kealey, 1989; Ward & Kennedy, 1996). Ward et al. (2001) contend that the U-curve hyp othesis has been applied frequently despite evidence against its accuracy, and conclude that its heuristic appeal has led researchers to adopt this model despite the controversy surrounding it. For example, Ward and Kennedy (1996) employed a longitudinal design by testing and interviewing Malaysian and Singaporean students at arrival, after 6 months, and after 12 months of their stay in New Zealand. The authors found that the students adjustment followed a U-curve opposite of th e one proposed by Lysgaard (1955). The authors

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27 conclude that initial sojourner adjustment may be difficult, w ith improvement and variability over time (Ward & Kennedy, 1996; Ward et al., 2001). In sum, the evidence regarding a U-curve shaped model of sojourner adjustment, bot h socio-culturally and psychologically, is inconclusive, and additional research, in particular longitudinal studies, will be needed to develop a more comprehensive understanding. Adjustment Literature on Spous es of International Students Overview A lim ited number of studies have investigated the specific adjustment issues experienced by spouses of international students, and none of them have explicitly examined acculturative stressors for this population (Chang, 2004; De Verthelyi, 1995; Shao, 2001; Schwarz & Kahne, 1993; Vogel, 1986). The majority of these studies are qualitative in nature and tap into major themes surrounding the experience of small sample s of international st udent spouses, with no models or theories proposed for this subgroup of sojourners. However, some of these authors stressed the fact that spouses may share simila rities with their partners when facing the crosscultural transition along with their unique situation causing them to encounter unique difficulties. Church (1982), in his systematic overview of sojourner research, pointed to language difficulties, financial and academic concerns, social isolatio n and homesickness, adjustment to new cultural customs and norms, and for some, racial disc rimination as the main adjustment-related difficulties for international students. In line with Churchs (1982) compilation, literature on spouses adjustment problems has highlighted similar and related issues faced by wives of international students (Chang, 2004; De Verthelyi, 1995; Sha o, 2001; Schwarz & Kahne, 1993; Vogel, 1986). Additional challenges particular to spouses have been cited. These include the loss of professional identity, lack of a purposeful activity, exclusion from campus community, and

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28 dependence on husbands academic success (C hang, 2004; Day, 2001; De Verthelyi, 1995; Schwartz & Kahne, 1993; Vogel, 1985). Studies on Spouses of International Students Vogel (1985) as well as Schwartz & Kahne (1993) highlighted the experiences of faculty and student wives at two univers ities in the northeastern U.S. Vogel (1985) outlined issues rela ted to social isolation, communication difficulti es, fear of strangers a nd racial discrimination among Japanese wives at Harvard University, based on discussion groups held for these women. Similarly, introducing a faculty and student wi ves support program at M.I.T., Schwartz & Kahne (1993) discussed the womens sense of being an outsider on campus. The authors underscored that the wives presen ce is not of importance to th e university administrators and even though these women are in the community, they are not of it (p. 454). Further, Schwartz and colleague pointed to the unique adjustment issues the women face: The majority of the problems of newcomers are related to being outsi ders, having family responsibilities, being institutionally unconnected, having their status a lmost exclusively determined by their spouses career commitments, and being both transients in the community and in transition in their own lives (p. 453). Both articles make no distinction between facu lty wives and student spouses, limiting the interpretation of th eir reports. It is noteworthy th at among other factors that may differentiate faculty wives and spouses, internat ional student families likely face additional financial difficulties during their sojourn. De Verthelyis (1995) qualitative study on intern ational students spouses cross-cultural adjustment can be viewed as an initial, in-depth approach to explore the major characteristics and expectations of this population, while primarily investigating pr e-arrival dimensions such as choice and decision-making, psyc hological preparedness and havi ng a personal project for the sojourn, as well as early adjustment dimensions su ch as financial status, English proficiency and

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29 social support. The author interviewed 49 spous es from 26 countries using semi-structured interviews. The research design is described as using insider knowledge (p. 391) and choosing a naturalistic inquiry () to best unveil the natu re, essences, characteristics, and meanings of phenomena as fully and completely as possible a nd within a particular context (as cited in Leininger, 1992, p. 403). The results are presente d as non-overlapping codes and verbatim quotes to illustrate the diffe rent themes that emerged (De Verthelyi, 1995, p. 392). De Verthelyi (1995) observed initial adjustme nt difficulties for spouses including feelings of sadness, loneliness, self-doubt confusion, and frustration. The author also discussed the spouses language difficulties, financial problems, and social isolation, including missing family and friends and feeling guilty for living abroad. Th e author further points to the spouses gender role orientation and in particular work and fam ily significance influencing the degree of culture shock: The degree of acceptance, or rejection, of the more trad itional role as a homemaker (and mother) during the stay was the most important variable affecting the psychological well-being of the spouses (p. 404). De Verthelyi also states that a large proportion of interviewed spouses showed great resiliency in overcoming initial adju stment problems, usually within a time span of 3-6 months. Further, since spouses sojourns of ten do not have specific tasks outlined for them, personal satisfaction with the stay depended on the wives achievement of goals in relation to a personal project and the degree of flexibility in finding alternativ e solutions. Drawing from her sample, the author cautions that there is () no such thing as the foreign students spouse, since spouses needs and expectations, as well as projects for the sojourn are very dissimilar and not prescribed by the role itself (p. 403). She states that personal va riables over situational factors appear to influence the we ll-being of the spouses and their adjustment to the host culture. And finally, the author conclude s that experiencing psychological well-being resulted from the

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30 perception of increased functional fitness and aut onomy in dealing with the host culture as well as from finding a role of her own which conveyed meaning to the so journ (p. 404-405). Overall, while the De Verthelyis study (1995) provides an extensive examinati on of potential factors impacting spouses adjustment, her qualitative work is not based on a specified theoretical foundation, nor does she propose theories in relation to spouses adjustment. In her qualitative dissertation, Day (2003) studied the experience of spouses of international students and postdoctoral fellows along a variet y of dimensions, among them language, preparation for sojourn, cultural diffe rences, identity, and perceived changes in themselves and their husbands education. Day investigated the experience of two groups of 10 foreign wives who had been living in the New Jersey area for the duration of 6 months to 18 months. The first group (with limited English fluency) provided written answers to a questionnaire and the second group pa rticipated in interviews. Ahead of her analysis, the author further divided the participants into culturall y near and culturally distant groups, based on the country of origin and extant literature about cultural differ ences between the U.S. and the participants countries of origin. Apart from th is distinction, no method of analysis is provided, and the author provides verbatim responses under either the culturally near or culturally distant division, with the followi ng topic headings: expectations of the U.S. and preparations for change, aspects of identity, att itudes toward women at home and in the U.S., perception of wifechanges/perception of husband-changes, response to the U.S. and vice versa, perception of the U.S.s place in the world, attitudes toward foreigne rs and racism, and the U.S.s ability to change attitudes toward foreign students wives. The interpretations to be drawn from this study are limited based on the lack of a rationale as to how these particular themes were chosen and/or if they were derived directly from the data.

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31 In a qualitative study on Chinese wives percep tions of their life in the U.S. during the period of their husbands doctoral study, Shao (2001) describes issues related to the spouses expectations before arrival, la nguage barriers, financial consid erations, redefinition of goals, career changes, marital satisfaction, and effect of separation before reunion. The author interviewed five wives of doctoral students in the United States, employing semi-structured, indepth interviews. Interviews were conducted in Chinese and then translated. In her attempt to describe the adaptation process of the five women, the author em phasized the positive effect of spouses ultimately attending school in the United States with the result of smoother functioning of their marriage. Further, the author underlined the negative impact that the dependent role of the spouses had in relation to their career aspi rations. Limiting the interp retability of her study, Shao (2001) does not provide a rationale for either the composition of her interview questions or her data analysis. In contrast to interviewi ng individual spouses, Chang (2004) focused on marital relationships of four Taiwanes e student couples. In-depth in terviews conducted with both partners provided information about how the co uples made sense of their experiences and the strategies they employed in deali ng with their cross-cultural situation. Using a narrative analyses method, Chang (2004) identified psychosocial and acculturation impacts on the marital relationships of the couples. Several themes emerged as part of the psychological effects (psychosocial impacts): change of lifestyle; sense of emptiness; anxiety, and insecurity; independence from home families; lack of social resources; and spending more quality time with their significant other. Level of acculturation was seen as a positive force on the marital relationship when both spouses were at the sa me level. In case of discrepancy, however, acculturation caused conflict and decreased mar ital satisfaction among the couple (Chang, 2004).

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32 In summary, the aforementioned studies provid e a broad yet inconclusive overview of the experience of spouses of international students. With the exception of Changs (2004) research, none of the qualitative approaches followed an explicitly stated methodological paradigm. Similarly, the authors did not provide a rationale for th e construction of interview questions, data analyses, or an audit trail. While these studies do not propose potential th eories on the range and possible impact of stressors experienced by spouses during th eir sojourn, they nevertheless provide potential topics and themes, which in turn build the foundation for this study. Potential Stressors Faced by Spouses of International Students Topics se lected for this investigation are based on commonalities encountered in previous qualitative work. These include overcoming language barriers, financial concerns, adjusting to culturally different norms, ethnic discrimination, and homesickness/loneliness, stress associated with husbands academic progress along with the career and role change spouses face when accompanying their husbands abroad. Similarly, attention will be given to the importance of social support systems and the marital relations hip. An examination of previous literature on spouses of international stude nts attempted to identify sali ent variables related to the psychological adjustment of spouses of interna tional students. Included are acculturative stress, language, financial difficulties, satisfaction with husbands a cademic progress, and spouses career-homemaker role conflict. Social support a nd marital satisfaction we re further included as important contributors to spousal well-being. Acculturative stress Numerous studies have suggest ed that adaptation to a host culture can be difficult and stressful (Choi, 1997; Lee et al., 2004; Mori, 2000; Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1994; Yang and Clum, 1994; Yeh & Inoseh, 2003). Cultural contact litera ture describes cross-cultural encounters as significant life events of stressful proportions (e.g., Mori, 2000; Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1994; Yang

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33 & Clum, 1995). Stress evoked by a cultural transition is commonly referred to as acculturative stress (Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1994). In his review of literature of 30 years of studies on cultural adaptation of sojourners, Church (1982) desc ribed international students facing potential stressors such as language difficulties, financ ial problems, adjusting to a new educational system, homesickness, adjusting to social customs and norms, a nd for some students, racial discrimination (p. 544). Empirical evidence shows that cross-cult ural interaction, which calls for people to function in unfamiliar physical and soci al environments, is potentially very stressful and may cause individuals to experience outcomes that can range from mi ld distress to severe maladaptive symptoms (Mori, 2000). A relationship between accultura tive stress and psychological distress has been repeatedly established across different groups within in ternational student populations. Research on acculturative stress has shown that a relationship between stress and mental health symptoms exists, particularly in the form of depressive symptoms. Acculturative stress has shown to be positively related to depression in a sample of A frican, Asian, and Latin American international students (Constantine et al., 2004), Taiwanes e international stude nts (Ying & Han, 2006), Korean international students (Lee et al., 2004), and Asian internationa l students (Yang & Clum, 1995). For individuals from cultures other than th e United States, and in particular for Asian students, somatic symptoms may be of particular importance in relation to acculturative stress (Lee et al., 2004; Mori, 2000). L ee and colleagues (2003) pointed out that Asian international students appear to evidence physical symptoms rather than expre ss their psychologi cal distress in the form of anxiety or depression (see also Lin & Yi, 1997; Mori, 2000; Yoon & Portman, 2004). Further, whereas academic demands and a change of social environment are encountered by U.S. and international students alike, the tran sition may be more challenging for international

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34 families because it occurs in the context of cross-cultural adjustment (Furnham & Bochner, 1986; Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1994). International student s, along with their spouses, often lack personal resources, such as a larger social netw ork, when they arrive in the United States and consequently experience greater difficulty acculturating than established ethnic minority immigrants (Berry & Kim, 1988; Hayes & Lin, 1994). In addition, inte rnational students and their family members may also refuse to seek proper psychological a ssistance due to cultural differences in their views on the helpfulness of counseling and mental heal th services (Bradley, 2000; Mori, 2000; Pedersen, 1991). Language fluency Numerous authors have pointed to the essential role that language competence plays in intercultural communication, with host language skills counting as a crucial tool for satisfying everyday needs (Kim, 1988; Mori, 2000). Further, fluency in the host cultures language has shown to be strongly linked to pos itive cross-cultural adjustment in international student samples (Lin & Yin, 1997; Mori, 2000; Poyrazli et al., 2001; Yang, Noels, & Saumure, 2005; Yeh & Inoseh, 2002). International students academic progress and success is largely dependent on their mastery of the English language, with prearrival tests (TOEFL) an d post-arrival programs in place in order to guarantee satisfactory la nguage comprehension and fluency for the purpose of completing academic degrees and involvement in research and teaching (Koyama, 2005). Relatedly, in a sample of Mexican immigrant women, Snyder (1987) found a positive relationship between depressive symptomatology and lack of verbal proficiency in English. Successful integration upon immigration to the United States, in cluding professional advancement, may be dependent on English lang uage skills, and the lack thereof may thus impede positive adjustment.

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35 Spouses, in contrast to their international student partners, are not expected to have sufficient English language skills upon arrival, a nd it is up to the indivi dual to evaluate and increase their language competencies. De Verthelyi (1995) noted that while many of the interviewed women regarded their stay in the U.S. as an opportunity to learn English, few were prepared for the level of impediment they faced due their limited language skills. As a result, spouses experienced resentment at the loss of au tonomy (p. 399) and a lack of being able to express themselves fully and adequately other than to co-nationals (De Verthelyi, 1995). Financial concerns Financial difficulties are one of the key stressors for intern ational students (Koyama, 2005; Mori, 2000; Yang & Clum, 1995). A ccording to the Open Doors report, 66% of F-1 students receive financial support from family and person al savings (IIE, 2005). As part of their visa requirements, international studen ts have to be enrolled full-time every semester, and they are not permitted to find employment in the U.S. la bor market although some exceptions are allowed (e.g., on-campus jobs, onand off-campus internsh ips). For students without paid teaching or research assistantships, costly out-of-state tui tion can impose a substantia l financial burden. In addition, financial aid and scholarships are of ten only available for American citizens and permanent U.S. residents. Students assets may also be dependent on the current exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and thei r home currency (Koyama, 1995). As for spouses, F-2 visa holders are not permitte d to work and study and are thus unable to financially contribute to the household income, un less they resort to illegal means to boost the household budget such as by providing services as housekeepers and baby-sitters, as reported in De Verthelyis study (1995). Similarly, couples w hose partners both worked full-time in their home country, are forced to rely on a one-person income in the U.S., and are potentially facing a downgrade of their socio-economic status upon a rrival. In comparison, J-2 visa holders are

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36 allowed to seek employment authorization, bu t only if the employment does not have the potential to financially support the primary visa holder (U.S. Department of State, 2006). Naturally, in a family with children, financial difficulties may multiply. De Verthelyi (1995) reported spouses percepti on of financial status as a co mplex comparison of pre-arrival expectations, former and current lifestyle, and future prospects. Stress related to husbands academic progress Student sojourners acculturation stress has often been related to the extent to which they are academically successful (C hurch, 1982; Misra et al., 2003). Academic performance relates directly to the students overall academic progr ess in the program and consequently length of stay; the extent to which fellowship, scholarships, and assistantships can be secured and maintained; as well as possible spill-over effects from academic strain into the relationship (Chang, 1994). As prescribed by their visa stat us, spouses are equally dependent on their partners academic performance. Most authors on spousal adjustment point to the dependence on the husbands academic career experienced by accompanying spouses. For example, Lo (1993) and Shao (2001) point to the dr astic career changes wi ves in their studies had undergone. Shao (2001) states that her interviewees were highly educated women who, upon arrival in the U.S., faced uncertain and temporarily replaced career goals, which were largely redefined by the educational aspirations of their husbands. In turn, these women experienced hypervigilance toward their husbands academic performance, often causing grief and resentment (p. 17). Occupational and homemaker role reward value Arriving in the United States with an F-2 or a J-2 visa implies serious restrictions upon a spouses career path. In her account of the spous es experience while sojourning in the U.S., Day (2003) mentions themes such as joblessne ss and the difference between a womans home identities and distinct foreign id entities. Day concludes in her anal ysis that during their stay in

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37 the U.S., the womens identity is that of a wife (p. 92). Despite her citation of a few exceptions of women who found work in the U.S., the majority of the interviewees had jobs before they embarked on the sojourn and experienced a change in that status by moving to the U.S. Furnham and Bocher (1986) also argue that in migrant families, it is the non-working mothers who adjust the least well. Similarly, Chang (2004) describes the experience of three of four spouses who had careers and were financially independent in their home country; however, in order to move with their husbands, they quit their professi ons and assumed financial depe ndence on their partners and parent-in-laws. According to Chang (2004), not content with being a stay-at-home housewife, they all made efforts trying to find a focus in thei r lives in the United States, and all had different strategies (p. 234). De Verthelyi (1995) further states that for the majority, arriving in the United States on a visa with work restrictions m eant changing from an active professional life in the public sphere to a more trad itional feminine role as a homemaker (p. 398). She further states that some spouses adapted to this situation easil y, while for others the lo ss of their professional identity was very difficult. Stress Buffers Social support In general, social support has been establishe d as a buffer in the link between stressors and stress outcom e (Thoits, 1995). Social support system s for sojourners may arise from a variety of sources, including ties with overseas family and friends, accompanying spouses and family, members of the dominant or host culture, memb ers of the internati onal community, and conationals (Ward et al., 2001). The effect of social support has been recognized as a crucial component in dealing with acculturative stress, a nd it is one of the most prominently researched variables in relation to the acculturative process. Studies have primarily focused on international

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38 students, expatriate social s upport systems, and immigrant women, and have largely established the concept of social support as a buffer against stress and a positive correlate of emotional wellbeing (Copeland & Norell, 2002; Lee et al., 2003; Mi sra et al., 2003; Poyraz li et al., 2004; Ward, et al., 2001). Accordingly, authors have pointed to the lack of social support as one of the biggest challenges experienced by stude nt sojourners (Hayes & Li n, 1994; Pedersen, 1991). During cross-cultural transitions, the role of social support is particularly highlighted due to the fact that established networks become l ong-distance and disrupted, and new ones are yet to be formed. These changes can be especially challenging for spouses due to competing family responsibilities, social isolation, sociopolitical constraints, and changes in thei r social and/or work status (Copeland & Norell, 2002, p. 256). In Changs (2004) study, interviewees reported dissatisfaction with the quality of friendships with co-nationals they had formed, with one spouse reporting to have become pregnant in order to have some focus in her life here (p. 235). The author further observed that the lack of social obligations led to a stronger bond between husband and wife, with spouses serving as thei r primary source of emotional support (Chang, 2004). Similarly, De Verthelyi (1995), Schwar tz & Kahne (1993) and Vogel (1986) equally noted the numerous challenges associated with so cial isolation that s pouses of international students are faced with during their sojourn. In addition, expatriate literature points to the importance of social networks for accompanying spouses. For example, Copeland & Ne vell (2002) showed that women with higher adjustment were in more cohesive families, participated in the decision to relocate, perceived less of a decrease in friendship networks, and had more functions of social support satisfactorily met. Finally, they received more of their support from local rath er than long-distance providers

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39 (Copeland & Nevell, 2002). Some of these results mirror studies with international students, which examined the relative mer it of co-national versus host national support. Surdam and Collins (1984), for example, described that student sojourners nearly exclusive socialization with other interna tional students was associated with poorer adjustment outcomes. Research also points to the fact that developing social relationships w ith host nationals appe ars to assist in the adjustment process (Abe, Talbot, an d Geelhoed, 1998; Poyrazli et al., 2004). Extending the concept of social support to include computer-mediated communication technology, recent studies have begun to examine the role of online tools for international students and their spouses during their cross-cult ural transition (Benne tt, 2002; Cemalcilar, Falbo, & Stapleton, 2005). Studies on the use of the Internet have shown that cybercommunication is often a tool to uphold a remote social netw ork and remain in touch with friends and family (Kraut et al., 1998). According to the model of Cemilcilar et al. (2005) model, the maintenance of contact has a positive effect on the international students home identity and perceived social support, which in turn contribute to the adaptati on to the new culture. Similarly, Bennett (2002) examined the effect of electroni c communication on culture shock of spouses of international students. Results indicated that spouses well-being improved over time and the author reported significant findings for phone, we b phone, chat, and email use predicting culture shock (Bennett, 2002). Notably, a study with married Mexican immigrant women found a strong positive relationship between womens accu lturative stress and depressive symptomatology, whereas, three single item-responses tapping into th e womens perceived overall social support (emotional, economical, and practical) were no t related to either acculturative stress or depressive symptomatology (Snyder, 1987). One item, womens perceived support from their

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40 spouse, was inversely related to depressive symptomatology. Thus, social support received from individuals other than within the married relationship did not predict psychological adjustment, whereas perceived support from the marital partner did. Marital satisfaction Marriage was shown to serve as a buffer duri ng stressful cultural adjustment, with the marital relationship seen as be ing one of the most important sources of support for a couple sojourning abroad (Fowler & Silberstein, 1989; Snyder, 1987). In a qualitative study with four Taiwanese couples, Chang (2004) observed a pos itive impact on the marital relationship brought forth by the change of lifestyle the interviewees experience by moving to the U.S. These couples reported spending more time together than they w ould have in Taiwan, where different types of social and family obligations exist, and they una nimously reported an increase in overall marital satisfaction (Chang, 2004). Shao (2001), on the other hand, found that spouses experienced tension in their marital relationships due to acad emic and other adjustment problems. The author also named long periods of separation before re union as resulting in marital conflicts (Shao, 2001). Similarly, De Verthelyi (1995) observed that out of 49 spouses in her sample, only 16 arrived together with their husbands. Simultaneous arrival was associated with joint decisionmaking and mutual emotional support. Prolonge d separation, in contrast, resulted in asymmetrical relationships with the husband, who consequently a ssumed the role of translator and guide upon the spouses arrival. In tur n, the asymmetry and ensuing dependency impacted these spouses well-being and had to be negotia ted, with some spouses endorsing the dependency and others suffering from conf lict and misunderstanding as a result (De Verthelyi, 1995). With the exception of Chang (2004), no studies examining the marital relationships and marital satisfaction of intern ational students exist. An em pirical study by Sweatman (1999), however, examined the relationshi p of marital satisfaction and psychological symptoms of a

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41 sample of missionaries during cross-cultural adjustment, as assessed by the Relationship Assessment Scale (RAS; Hendrick, 1988) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI; Derogatis & Melisartos, 1983). While no relationship was found between marital satisfaction and anxiety, a significant relationship between marital satisfac tion and depression was detected, with lower levels of marital satisfaction re lated to higher levels of depres sion and vice versa. Post-hoc analyses further revealed that the marital sati sfaction subscale of tim e spent together most strongly predicted depression scores, followed by affective communication and finances. The author argues that quality of ma rriage appears to have a bufferi ng effect on stress (Sweatman, 1999). Summary In conclusio n, spouses of international students face a unique set of challenges based on their visa status. While they potentially share some of the adjustment problems and concerns experienced by their husband count erparts and international stude nts in general, they also encounter challenges particular to their role as F-2/J-2 dependents. This study will examine the extent to which acculturative stress, language and financial difficulties, stress related to husbands academic progress and occupational and homemaker role reward value contribute to spouses psychological adjustment. In turn, social support and marital satisfaction will be explored as potential moderato rs in the link between stresso rs and psychological distress. Primary Hypotheses Accultura tive Stress will be significantly posit ively related to ps ychological distress. Higher levels of acculturative stress will likely be related to higher psychological maladjustment (Constantine et al. 2004; Lee et al., 2004; Snyder, 1987; Ya ng & Clum, 1995; Ying & Han, 2006).

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42 Social Support will have a moderating effect on the acculturative stress and psychological distress relationship. Social support has shown to be a modera tor in the link between stressor and stress symptoms (Copeland & Norell, 2002; Jou & Foukada, 1997; Lee et al., 2004). It will thus have a buffering effect on the relationship between acculturative stress and psychological distress. Marital Satisfaction will have a moderati ng effect on the relationship between acculturative stress and psychological distress. Marital satisfaction wa s shown to be a buffer between stress and depression (S weatman, 1999). Thus, marital sa tisfaction will be moderating the effects of acculturative stre ss on psychological adjustment. Secondary Hypotheses English Lan guage Fluency will be significantly negatively related to psychological distress. Lower English fluency has been found to be associated with greater levels of acculturative stress and increased depressive symptomatology (Nwadiora & McAdoo, 1996; Poyrazli et al., 2001; Snyder, 1987; Yang et al., 2005). Therefore, higher English fluency will also likely be related to lower levels of psychological distress. Financial Concerns will be significantly posit ively related to psyc hological distress. Financial concerns have shown to be positively re lated to overall life stress (Misra et al., 2003). Therefore, higher levels of fina ncial concerns will also likely be related to higher levels of psychological distress. Stress related to husbands academic progress will be significantly positively related to psychological distress. Shao (2001) noted spouses experience of grief and resentment due to hypervigilance toward their husbands academic perf ormance. Therefore, higher levels of stress related to husbands academic progress will likely be related to higher levels of psychological distress.

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43 Number of goals for the sojourn will be rela ted to higher levels of marital satisfaction, lower levels of acculturative stress a nd lower levels of psychological distress. Is the presence of a clearly announced goal associated with lower le vels of psychological distress and lower levels of acculturative stress? Based on De Verthelyis ( 1995) report, personal satisfaction with the stay and personal well-being depended on the wives creation of a persona l project in relation to their sojourn. Exploratory Research Questions A num ber of explorator y research questions will be examin ed. Due to the lack of previous research, no directional hypotheses will be put forth: Is simultaneous versus separate arrival associ ated with level of marital satisfaction and acculturative stress? Is type of decision-making (husband, joint) regarding the sojourn abroad associated with marital satisfaction and psychological adjustment? Is the presence of spouses program associated with higher levels of perceived social support, lower levels of acculturative stress a nd lower levels of psychological distress? What is the level and direction of the relati onship between occupational role reward value, homemaker role reward valu e and psychological distress? If a significant moderating effect is dete cted for social support in the link between acculturative stress and psychological distress, do levels of socio-emotional versus instrumental social support differ in relati on to their moderating effect? Is there a moderating effect of social suppor t and marital satisfacti on in the link between English language, financial difficulty, and stre ss related to husbands academic progress, and psychological adjustment?

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44 CHAPTER 3 METHOD Participants Participants included 142 fe male spouses of in ternational students sojourning in the United States. Eight outliers were eliminated from the sample during the analysis stage of the project (see results section for explanation). Participan ts were solicited by a combination of email, letters, and flyers sent to in ternational student organizations and spouses programs. Reminder emails were sent 2 weeks after making first cont act with the offices (see Appendices J-M). Data collection took place between February and May 2007. In an effort to maximize participation in this study, organizations and programs at universiti es with the largest nu mber of international students were targeted for potential participation (IIE, 2005). A total of 45 universities in 21 U.S. states were included. Geographic distribution covered four major regional areas of the United States, including West, Southeast, Northeast, an d Midwest. International student administrative offices, housing offices, and English language programs at these institutions were asked to forward an email message to spouses of internatio nal students, either indirectly via international student listserv or directly to addresses of spouses of internat ional students. The letter of solicitation contained an online li nk to the survey, which took approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. The link first led participants to the info rmed consent form (see Appendix B). They were told that their participat ion was voluntary and th at they would not receive compensation for taking the survey. Because the exact number of international st udent spouses was not known, and the survey link could have been forwarded to other groups of international students spouses, as well, it is impossible to determine the representativeness of the sample vis-a-vis the larger population. This is a common qualification associated with Internet -based survey research. Internet recruitment,

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45 however, has shown to have the benefit of providing access to sample s beyond the reach of traditional methods in psychological research a nd allowed solicitation of a greater number of individuals who identify as spous es of international students across the United States as opposed to a limited geographical area, resulting in a larger and more diverse sample (Gosling, Vazire, Srivastava, & John, 2004). Based on the fact that sampling did not occur at random, Boxs M tests were conducted in order to dete rmine the potential effects of university size, university type, and region of re sidence on the main dependent variables Acculturative Stress, Social Support, Marital Satisf action, and Psychological Distress. Significant results indicate heterogeneity of covariance matrices across groups. Boxs M tests revealed no significant differences among groups of spouses for main variables examined in this study. 134 participants identified as spouses of interna tional students. Their ages ranged from 18 41 ( M = 29.46, SD = 4.19). Participants originated from a total of 48 countries. Top countries of origin were China (15%), Indi a (9%), Brazil (8%), and Japan (5%), followed by Canada, Chile, Israel, Poland, and South Korea (each 3%). 60.4% of spouses indicated that their visa status was F-2, 30.8% indicated a J-2 visa st atus, and 6.8% described their visa status as other. Region of origin was listed as Asia n (40.3%), South Ameri can (24.6%), European (20.1%), Middle Eastern (6%), North American (3 %), African (2.2%), and Australian (2.2%). 71.6% of spouses who responded to the survey indi cated that they had no children, and 28.4% of respondents noted that they had one child or more. 50% of the spouses who took the survey stated that they had arrived simultaneously wi th their husbands, wherea s 50% noted that they had arrived separately from their husbands. 14.9% of spouses indicated that they had been in the United States less than 6 months, 31.3% between 7-18 months, 22.4% between 19-30 months, and 28.4% for more than 30 months. 69.4% of the participants specified that they had

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46 made the decision to come to the United States together with their husbands, 20.1% responded that their husband had made the decision becau se it was important for his career, and 10.4% responded in the category of other. Similarly, 55.2% of spouses noted that moving to the U.S. for them was desirable, 9.7% indicated the move was undesirable, and 32.8% of spouses chose hard to say. 79.9% of the spouses who took the survey indicated that they had a job or career before moving to the United States, whereas 17.9% stated that did not pursue a career or job before the transition (no response: 2.2%). Si milarly, 12.7% of spouses had worked less than 1 year in their job before the move, 25.4% ha d worked 1-3 years, 20.9% 3-5 years, and 23.9% more than 5 years. 17.2% did not respond as to the number of years they had worked before moving to the U.S. 2.2% of spouses indicated that they had previously obtained a PhD, 41.8% of respondents noted that they hold a masters de gree, 46.3% had graduated from college, 6% had taken some college courses, and 2.2% had eith er completed high school or taken high school classes. Further, 47.0% of spouses partners studied at a private univers ity, whereas 50% of spouses husbands received training at a state-funded university. 3% of spouses did not provide information as to the type of university their husband was attending. Sizes of partners universities were noted as below 10,000 (16.4%), 10-20,000 (23.9%), 20-30,000 (17.9%), 3040,000 (20.9%), and above 40,000 (8.2%). Husbands main areas of study were Physical and Life Science (33.6%), Engineering (20.9%), Busi ness and Management (16.4%), Social Sciences (11.9%), Math and Computer Scie nce (7.5%), and Other (9.7%). Re gion of residence in the U.S. were West (9.7%), Midwest (26.1), Southeast (24.6), and No rtheast (37.3%). Finally, participants responded as to how easy or hard it was to understand the English language in the survey. Scores ranged from 1 to 10 (1 = easy; 10 = hard). Breakdown of

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47 responses was as follows: 54.5% (1), 20.9% (2), 6.8% (3), 3% (4), 1.5% (5), 4.5% (6), 4.5% (7), 1.5% (8), 0.7% (9), 0.7% (10). These numbers have to be interpreted with caution, however. No data was collected as to the number of responde nts who failed to complete the survey. It is possible that respondents with insufficient Eng lish proficiency may have not completed the survey, which in turn may have bias the result s (see also limitations in discussion section). Instruments Participan ts completed a demographic quest ionnaire, measures of acculturative stress, English fluency, financial concern, stress related to husbands academic progress, occupational/homemaker role reward value, social support, marital satisfaction, and psychological adjustment. Demographic Questionnaire Participants were asked to com plete a demographic questionnaire in wh ich they identified the following demographic variables: ag e, gender, legal home country, ethnicity/race, U.S. state they currently live in, visa type, na tive language(s), highest level of education, month/year of marriage, arrival date, husbands arrival date, and number of children living in the U.S. A number of additional, exploratory questions were posed as well (see Appendix A). Items addressed areas such as the decision to come to the U.S., desirability of the move, career/job experience before moving to the U.S., services for spouses provided by husbands university, personal goals during stay in the U.S., husbands area of study, type of university, and university size. Spouses further indicated their perceived ea se or difficulty in taking the survey based on their level of English language proficiency. Acculturative Stress The Accultu rative Stress Scale for Intern ational Students (ASSIS ) was developed to measure intrapersonal acculturati ve stress of international stud ents (Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1994).

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48 The ASSIS consists of 36 items scored on a 7point Likert scale (1 =Strongly disagree to 7=Strongly agree). Sandhu and Asra badi (1994) extracted six fact ors and one nonspecific factor using a principal components an alysis, accounting for 70.6% of the total explained variance in their survey research. The seve n factors are Perceived Discri mination (38.30% of variance), Homesickness (9.0%), Perceived Hate (7.20%), Fear (6.10%), Stress due to change/cultural shock (3.70%), Guilt (3.20%), and Nonspecific ( 3.10%). It has been reported that ASSIS has internal consistency scores ranging from .87 to .95 for total items measured by Cronbachs alpha (Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1994; Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1998; Yeh & Inose, 2003). The ASSIS scale has been used in a limited number of studies on acculturative stress; thus psychometric data is limited. In previous studies, however, ASSIS scores were correlated in expected directions with independent measures of English fluency, depr ession, and social support (Constantine et al., 2004; Ye, 2005; Yeh & Inoseh, 2003). For the current study, the internal consistency reliability (Cronbachs alpha) of the ASSIS scale was .93. Previous research us ing the ASSIS with populations other than internati onal students included Korean immi grants (Oh, Koeske, & Sales, 2002); however, internal consistency re liability data remained unreported. This instrument was chosen by the researcher since it taps into the main themes of crosscultural adjustment difficulties e xperienced by spouses of international students as reported in qualitative surveys on this popul ation (De Verthelyi, 1995; Sc hwartz & Kahne, 2003; Vogel, 1986). Sandhu and Asrabadi (1994) en courage the use of the scal es total score with higher scores indicating greater acculturative stress pe rceived by the respondents. The authors further suggest the employment of subscale scores when researchers are in vestigating specific sources of acculturative stress. For th e purpose of this study, the global score was used.

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49 English Fluency Self-reported English Fluency was m easured by using a combined score from the following three questions, which were rated on a 5-point, Likert scale: What is your current level of fluency in English? How comfortable do you feel communicating in English? How often do you communicate in English? Scores on these measures range from 3 to 15, an d higher scores are asso ciated with greater English language fluency. Answers range from poor to very good. Similar methods of assessing English language fluency have been repo rted previously in th e literature (Barratt & Huba, 1994; Constantine et al., 2004; Sodowsky & Plake, 1992; Yeh & Inoseh, 2003). Reported Cronbachs alpha using this 3-item scale range d from .78 to .84. Cronbachs alpha for the current sample was .90. Financial Concerns Financial Concerns was explored by using an adapted subscale from the Index of Life Stress measure (ILS; Yang & Clum, 1994). The ILS 31-item instrument was originally designed to assess the level of stressful live events for Asian international students. Subscales include financial concerns, language difficulty, perceived discrimination, cultural adjustment, and academic pressure. Subscales for these five dimensi ons have 5 to 8 items. Participants rate the items on a 4-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (n ever) to 4 (always). This instrument has been employed by researchers with various international students samples and demonstrated satisfactory psychometric properties, e.g., with Taiwanese students (Chao, 1999), African, Asian, and Middle Eastern international st udents (Misra et al., 2003). Cons truct and concurrent validity for the overall measure has been reported a nd was satisfactory (Ya ng and Clum, 1994). Yang and Clum (1994) also reported a 1-month test-retest reliabilit y of .87. Internal consistency

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50 estimates (Kuder-Richardson [KR]=20) for the five factors were good, with .80 for financial concern (Yang & Clum 1994). While the ILS m easure has an overall academic focus, the adapted financial dimension taps into financial co ncerns of international students in general. For the purpose of the current study, the adap ted scales three items was scored on a 4point Likert scale ranging from 1 (never) to 4 (always), with a higher score representing higher financial concern. Spouses were as ked to select the response that best described their situation. Original sample items, such as I worry about my financial situation, were reworded to I worry about our financial situation or my financia l situation influences my academic study was changed to our financial situation influen ces my husbands academic study. Scores ranged from 3 to 12. Coefficient alpha was .81 in the current study. Stress Related to Husbands Academic Progress Stress Related to Husbands Academ ic Pr ogress was explored by using an adapted Academic Pressure subscale of the Index of Life Stress measure (ILS; Yang & Clum, 1994) (see above). This subscale of the IL S was originally designed to measure self-reported academic stress experienced by international students. The items have been reworded in order to tap into spouse-reported stress related to husbands academic progress. For example, I worry about my academic performance was reworded to I worr y about my husbands academic performance, or I am not doing as well as I want to in sc hool was reworded to My husband is not doing as well as I want him to do in school. Yang & Clum (1994) reported internal consistency estimates (Kuder-Richardson [KR]=20) of .75 for the academ ic pressure subscale. In the current study, Cronbachs alpha was .56. Occupational and Homemaker Role Reward Value Occupational and Hom emaker Role Reward Value was assessed by using the two subscales of Life Role Salience Scales (L RSS; Amatea, Cross, Clark, & Bobby, 1986). The

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51 LRSS is a 40-item measure design ed to assess personal expectations concerning occupational, marital, parental, and homecare roles. The Occupational Role Reward Value Scale an d the Homecare Role Reward Value Scale consist of five statements each, indicating a hi gh personal value that the individual assigns to involvement in an occupational or homecare role Participants respond on a five-point Likert scale (1 = disagree and 5 = agre e), how much they agree with the statements (e.g., having a career/job that is intere sting and exciting to me is my most important goal, and it is important to me to have a home of which I can be proud of ). Scores for each subscale range from 5 to 25, with a higher score indicating hi gher personal value assigned to th at role. Internal consistency estimates for the scales were reported by the au thors at .86 for the Occupational Role Reward Value, and at .82 for the Homecare Role Reward va lue. Test-retest reliabil ity for the total scale was .75 (Amatea et al., 1986). College student and working adult populations participated in the validity and reliability studies for the LRSS (Amatea et al., 1986). In the current study, coefficient alphas for the two subscales were calculated. Cronbachs alpha for Occupational Role Reward Value was .72, and .82 for Homecar e Role Reward Value, respectively. Social Support The Index of Sojourner Social Support (ISSS; Ong & W ard, 2005) was developed to measure the availability of social support al ong two distinct factors, socio-emotional and instrumental support. The scale consists of 18 items: 9 items comprisi ng the socio-emotional support and 9 items comprising inst rumental support. Respondent s indicate whether there are persons (no one, someone, a few, several, many) who would provide a range of supportive behaviors. Overall scores range from 18 (low pe rceived social support) to 90 (high perceived social support). Research with samples of student and adult soj ourner samples in Singapore and New Zealand showed the ISSS to possess adequa te and stable construct validity and scale

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52 reliability, with a reported inte rnal consistency score of .95. In the current study, Cronbachs alpha was .96 for the overall scale, with .94 for the socio-emotional suppo rt subscale and .95 for the instrumental support subscale. Marital Satisfaction The Relationship Assessm ent Scale (RAS; He ndrick, 1988) is a 7-item scale designed to serve as a brief, generic self-repo rt measure of relationship satisfa ction. Participants answer item questions (e.g., How well does your partner meet your needs?) on a 5-point rating scale. Following rekeying of reverse-scored items, rati ngs are summed to produce a total satisfaction score. Hendrick (1988) reported a Cronbach alpha coefficient of .86 for RAS scores in an undergraduate sample, and that RAS scores were correlated in expected directions with independent measures of love attitudes, inti mate self-disclosure, dyadic adjustment, and relationship commitment. In the present study, the RAS produced a Cronbach alpha coefficient of .88. Psychological Distress The Brief Sym ptoms Inventory (BSI; Derogatis & Melisartos, 1983) was employed to examine the psychological distress of spouses of international students. The BSI consists of 53 items covering nine dimensions (e.g., anxiety, depression, and somatization) Participants rated how much they had been bothered by each symptom over the past 2 months from 1 (not at all) to 5 (extremely). Examples of symptoms includ ed nervousness or shakiness inside, poor appetite, and feeling fearful. The composition of the total measure was modi fied by excluding three items that make up the psychoticism scale. These psychoticism items had been removed by researchers in the past because they were thought to be potentially di stracting for a non-clinical sample or presumed unsuitable for use with immigrant groups (Aroian, Patsdaughter, Levin, & Gianan, 1995). Lee et

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53 al. (2004) reported an overall internal consistency score of .96 after removing the three psychoticism items. For the BSI, Derogatis and Melisartos (1983) reported te st-retest reliabilities ranging from .68 for the somatization dimension to .91 for phobic anxiety. Alpha coefficients ranged from .71 for Psychoticism to .85 for depre ssion. Derogatis and Meli sartos (1983) also reported evidence for the predictive and construct va lidity of the instrument. Further, Arojan et al. (1995) examined the internal consistency re liability of the BSI w ith Polish and Filipino immigrants and concluded that the BSI demonstrated reliable and valid cro ss-cultural measure of psychological distress. In the present study, the ov erall score was used to assess psychological distress. Cronbachs alpha for the current study was .97. In addition to utilizing the ove rall score of the BSI for data analyses, The Global Severity Index (GSI) for the current sample was determin ed. The GSI is calculated by using the sums for the nine symptom dimensions of the scale pl us four additional items not included in the dimension scores, divided by the to tal number of items that an i ndividual responded to. The three psychoticism items were not included in the presen t calculation. GSI scores in the current sample ranged from 0.84 to 3.40 ( M = 1.75, SD = .59). Additional Measures Additional m easures for analys es included: number of goals, simultaneous versus separate arrival, decision-making, and presence of spouses program. These measures were assessed as follows. Number of Goals for the Sojourn Num ber of goals for the sojourn was assessed by asking participants to generate goals for their sojourn in addition to selecting from a list of presented goals. The list of presented goals included (see Appendix A, Demographic Questi onnaire): Raising Child ren, Learning English,

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54 Making Friends, Going to University, Traveling, and Finding a Job. The total number of selected and/or self-generated goals comprised the number of goals for the sojourn. Simultaneous versus Separate Arrival As part of the De mographic Questionnaire, part icipants indicated the time of their arrival in the U.S (see Appendix A). In addition, particip ants were asked to state the time of their husbands arrival in the U.S. Si multaneous versus separate arrival was determined by comparing arrival dates. If arrival dates were more than one month apart, they were coded as separate arrival. According to literature on sojourning spouses, simultaneous arrival may contribute to sharing from the start the impact of uncertainty and cultural differences as well as the initial exploration of the options provided by the host en vironment. It allowed for joint decision-making about where to live, how to furnish the apartment, which car to buy, etc. and most importantly, it established the basis for mutual emo tional support (De Verthelyi, 1995). Decision-Making about Sojourn Participants were asked as to how they deci ded to com e to the U.S.? Choices were 1) my husband and I made the decision together, and 2) my husband made the decision because it was important for his career. In addition, part icipants could select an other option, which provided them with the opportunity to type an individualized respons e to the question. Presence of Spouses Programs The presence and num ber of spouses programs was assessed by selecting options from a list of possible spouse-related programs provide d by husbands universities, including English classes, Spouses Groups, Advising, Spouses We lcome Orientation, Online information, and Family programs. Under a separate category, partic ipants were able to t ype additional services available to them. The measure consisted of the total number of spouses programs indicated by participants.

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55 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS Preliminary and Descriptive Analyses Regression Diagnostics In order to test the m ain research questi on regarding the moderating effects of social support and marital satisfaction in the link be tween acculturative stress and psychological distress, hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted. Preceding the statistical procedure for multiple regression, assumptions underlying linear regression models were tested. These tests included data examination for multicollinearity, normality, linearity, and homoskedasticity for the main variables Acculturative Stress (ASSIS), Soci al Support (ISSS), Marital Satisfaction (RAS), a nd Psychological Distress (BSI). Regression diagnostics revealed no significan t concerns regarding multicollinearity, i.e., high correlation between the pr edictor variables A cculturative Stress (ASSIS), Social Support (ISSS), and Marital Satisfaction (RAS) were not de tected. Multicollinearity diagnostics produced variance inflation factors (VIF ) ranging from 1.003 to 1.063, and tolerance ranged from .941 to .997. Values for VIF that exceed 10 and tolerance va lues less than .10 present cause for concerns regarding multicollinearity (B owerman & OConnell, 1990; Myers, 1990). (Table 4 1 shows VIF and Tolerance statistics for the four main variables Acculturative Stress, Social Support, Marital Satisfaction, and Psychological Distress). Examination of the normal probability plot of the regression standardi zed residuals of the four primary variables Acculturative Stress, Social Support, Marital Satisfaction, and Psychological Distress, indicated violations for norm ality for three of the four main scales used. A test for skewness revealed that all but Acculturative Stre ss were significantly skewed. Consequently, a casewise diagnostic was run for the main variable s Acculturative Stress, Social

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56 Support, Marital Satisfaction, and Psychological Distress, identifying cases whose residuals were more than two standard deviations from the esti mated line. Eight outlying cases were detected and eliminated from the data set. As a result, normality for the Social Support measure was established, while Psychological Distress (BSI) remained positively skewed and Marital Satisfaction (RAS) remained ne gatively skewed. Following reco mmendations by Tabachnik and Fidell (2000), the two variables Psychological Distress a nd Marital Satisfaction were log transformed and the resulting adjusted variables were used in subsequent analyses. Correlations between original and transformed variable s (BSI adj. and RAS adj.) are shown in Table 4 2. In turn, hierarchical multiple regression analyses were run with both transformed and nontransformed variables. Results proved similar. Th erefore, for practical pu rposes, interpretations of beta coefficients will be possible, and re sults for transformed variables will be reported. Notably, based on the log transformation, Marital Satisfaction scores were reversed; i.e., high scores on Marital Satisfaction indi cate high marital dissatisfaction. Interpretations of results and discussion were rephrased accordingly. Examination of Potential Covariates In order to d etermine factors associated with dependent variables to be entered as potential covariates into the regression e quation, a series of tests on the effect of age, region of origin, length of stay, and presence of children on the dependent variables Accult urative Stress, Social Support, Marital Satisfaction, and Psychological Distress were pe rformed, following Frazier, Tix & Barron (2004) recommendations. First, to exam ine the association between spouses age and the four variables Acculturative Stress, Social Support, Marital Satisfaction, and Psychological Distress, bivariate correlations between these factors were examined. Correlations between Age and Acculturative Stress, Social Support, Marital Satisfaction, and Psychological Distress proved

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57 not significant (see Table 4 2). Consequently, age was not entered as a covariate into the regression analysis. Similarly, Boxs M tests were conducted in or der to determine the potential effects of spouses region of origin (Asi an, African, Middle Eastern, Eu ropean, South American, North American), length of stay (below 6 months, 718 months, 19-30 months and above 30 months), visa type (F-2 and J-2), and presence or ab sence of children, on the dependent variables Acculturative Stress, Social Suppor t, Marital Satisfaction, and Ps ychological Distress. Length of stay was modeled after intervals described in literature on sojourner adjustment (Church, 1982; Lysgaard, 1955). Box's M tests are used to examine homogeneity of variance-covariance matrices. Significant results indicate heterogene ity of covariance matrices across groups and suggest that it may be necessary to (1) include covariates in subsequent models, or (2) treat groups separately in further analyses. Box's M tests were non-significant among the four groups, thus covariance among these groups revealed no differences. Consequently, no covariates entered the regression analysis (see Table 4 4 for results of Boxs M tests). Descriptive Statistics Descriptive statistics an d internal consiste ncy reliability estimates for the collected measures are presented in Table 4 5. For the primary variables Acculturative Stress (ASSIS), Social Support (ISSS), Marital Sa tisfaction (RAS), and Psychologica l Distress (BSI), Cronbachs coefficient alphas ranged from .88 to .97. For the secondary variables English Fluency, Financial Concern, Husband Academic Progress, and Life Role Saliency Scales (Occupational Reward Value Scale Career; Occupational Reward Value Scale Home), Cronbachs coefficient alphas ranged from .56 to .90. Correlations among the primar y and secondary variables appear in Table 4 3. Means, Standard Deviations and reliab ility coefficients for primary and secondary variables are presented in Table 4

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58 Statistical Analyses and Test Hypotheses Primary Research Questions and Hypotheses The prim ary research questions addressed th e relationship between Acculturative Stress, Financial Concerns, Stress Related to Husbands Academic Progress, and Goals for the Sojourn and Psychological Distress. Further, the modera ting effect of Social Support and Marital Satisfaction in the link between Acculturative St ress and Psychological Distress were examined. For the present sample, Acculturative Stress (ASSI S) was significantly positively related to Psychological Distress (BSI), r (134) = .51, p < .01. Testing for Moderator Effects Separate hierarchical regr ession analyses were conducte d following the standard procedures outlin ed by Cohen and Cohen ( 1983). To test the hypothesis regarding the moderating role of Social Suppor t and Marital Satisfaction in the link between Acculturative Stress and Psychological Distress, suggestions by Baron and Kennys (1986) and Frazier et al. (2004) regarding the use of hierarchical multiple regression analyses to test for moderator effects were followed. Procedures for analyzing and inte rpreting the interaction terms, recommended by Aiken and West (1991), were employed. All predic tor variables were cent ered following Aiken and Wests (1991) recommendations to reduce multi collinearity between th e interaction terms. Consequently, mean deviation scores were calcu lated before creating multiplicative interaction terms (Aiken & West, 1991; Cohen, Cohen, West, & Aiken, 2003). In addition, and for exploratory purposes, separate hierarchical regressi on analyses were conducted to test the potential m oderating role of Social Support and Marital Satisfaction in the link between English Fluency, Financial Conc ern, Stress Related to Husbands Academic Progress and Psychological Dist ress. All predictor variables were centered, and standard

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59 procedures outlined by Cohen and Cohen (1983) regarding hierarchical mu ltiple regression were followed. Hierarchical Multiple Regression Analysis Two separate analyses were conducted to dete rm ine the association between Acculturative Stress and Psychological Distress and to exam ine whether interactio ns among Acculturative Stress and Social Support, and Acculturative Stress and Marital Sati sfaction, respectively, significantly improved the overall models. In e ach regression, the firs t step was used to statistically control for Social Support or Marital Satis faction and the other predictive variable (Acculturative Stress). In the second step, the inte raction between the two pr edictors was entered. Thus, main effects (i.e., Accu lturative Stress and Social Supp ort; Acculturative Stress and Marital Satisfaction, respectively) entered the regression equation as a block in the first step of the analyses. In the next step, the two-way interaction terms Acculturative Stress X Social Support and Acculturative Stress X Marital Satisfaction were added separately into the equations. The test of the interaction is whethe r a significant proportion of variance is accounted for by interaction terms after partialing the main eff ects of the predictors in the first step of the analysis. Since interaction effects tend to be difficult to detect with multiple regression, a more liberal Type I error level of .10 was set, followi ng the recommendations by McClelland and Judd (1993), and in order to explore potentially meaningful interac tions. Significant change in R2 for the interaction term indicates a significant moderator effect. Regression results for the firs t regression are displayed in Table 4 6. Significant main effects were observed for Social Support and Acculturative Stre ss, such that Psychological Distress increased as Social Support decreased and Acculturative Stress increased. These main effects accounted for 28% of the variance in Ps ychological Distress. The interaction between Acculturative Stress and Social S upport did not qualify the main effect, with no variance added

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60 to the full model by the interac tion term. Similarly, subscales of the Social Support measure did not individually qualify the main effect. Regression results for the second regression ar e displayed in Table 4 7. Significant main effects were observed for Marital Dissatisfa ction and Acculturative Stress, such that Psychological Distress increased as Marital Dissatisfaction and Acculturative Stress increased. These main effects accounted for approximately 35% of the variance in Psychological Distress. However, an interaction between Acculturative Stress and Marita l Dissatisfaction qualified the main effects. Figure 1 displays th e significant interaction effect of Marital Satisfaction in the link between Acculturative Stress a nd Psychological Distress. This plot was developed by following the procedures described by Cohen et al. ( 2003). Regression lines we re used to plot Psychological Distress at low (1 SD below the mean), and high (1 SD above the mean) for the predictors Acculturative Stress and Marital Satisfacti on. Consequently, and following procedures outlined by Aiken & West (1991), significance of si mple slopes of regression lines at single values of the second predictor were tested (Aiken & West, 1991; Darlington, 1990; Friedrich, 1982; Jaccard, Turrisi, & Wan, 1990). First, standard errors of the simple slopes of regression equations were calculated. Then t-tests for the significance of the simple slopes were computed. Analyses of the interaction slope s showed that Psychological Distre ss increased significantly at high and low levels of Acculturative Stress when Marital Dissatisfaction was low, = .30, t (129) = 2.88, p < .01, and when it was high, = .57, t (129) = 5.55, p < .001 (see Figure 4 1). Secondary Research Questions and Hypotheses The secondary research questions addressed the relationship between spouses level of Psychological Distress and English Language Flue ncy, Financial Concerns, Stress R elated to Husbands Academic Progress, and Number of Go als for the Sojourn. English Language Fluency

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61 was not significantly negatively corr elated with Psychological Distress, r (134) = -.10, ns Financial Concerns and Stress Related to Husb ands Academic Progress were significantly positively related to Psychological Distress, r (134) = .18, p < .05 and r (134) = .27, p < .01. Results of a bivariate correlation also revealed that spouses numb er of goals for the sojourn was not significantly negatively associat ed with psychological distress, r (133) = -.01, ns Exploratory Research Questions A set of four exploratory research questions were exam ined. The first exploratory research question investigated whether type of Arrival (simultaneous versus separate) was associated with marital satisfaction, acculturative stress, or psycho logical distress. A set of independent t-tests was run with the independent va riable being Arrival (simultane ous versus separate) and the dependent variables being Acculturative Stress, Marital Satisfaction, and Psychological Distress. The t-tests yielded no significant main effects fo r Arrival (simultaneous ve rsus separate), with t (130) = 1.17, ns for Acculturative Stress, t (129) = 1.32, ns for Marital Satisfaction, and t (130) = 0.38, ns for Psychological Distress. Second, type of Decision Making (husband versus joint) in relation to spouses Acculturative Stress, Marital Sa tisfaction, and Psychological Dist ress was examined. A set of independent t-tests was run with the independent variable bei ng Type of Decision Making and the dependent variables being Acculturative St ress, Marital Satisfaction, and Psychological Distress. The results of the t-tests indicated no main effect for Type of Decision Making (husband versus joint), for Acculturative Stress, t (118) = -1.81, ns for Marital Satisfaction, t (118) = 1.82, ns and for Psychological Distress, t (118) = -1.74, ns Third, in order to examine the relationship between the number of spouses programs reported by participants at their husbands home uni versity and their perceived level of social support, bivariate correlations between the Nu mber of Spouses Programs and Social Support

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62 (ISSS) was investigated. The Number of Spouses Programs was associated with higher levels of Social Support, r (134) = .22, p < .05, i.e.; as the number of reported spouses programs increased, the level of perceived social support increased as well. In order to examine individual relationships between the subscales Instrument al Support and Socio-Emotional Support of the social support measure, separate correlations were investigated. The subscale of Instrumental support was more highly associated with the Number of Spouses Programs, r (134) = .23, p < .01, than was Socio-Emotional Support, r (134) = .17, p <.05. Similarly, the Number of Spouses Programs reported was also associated with lower levels of Acculturative Stress, r (134) = -.21, p< .05, but not with lower levels of Psychological Distress ( r = .03). Fourth, the relationship between Occupatio nal Role Reward Value and Psychological Distress, and Homemaker Role Reward Value an d Psychological Distress were investigated. Both Occupational Role Reward Value and Home maker Reward Value were not significantly correlated with Psychological Distress, r (134) = .03, ns and r (134) = .08, ns Lastly, the potential moderating effect of So cial Support and Marita l Satisfaction in the link between English Fluency, Financial Conc ern, Stress Related to Husbands Academic Progress, and Psychological Distress were ex amined. Six separate hierarchical regression analyses were performed to test for moderator e ffects. In each regression, main effects (i.e., English Fluency and Social Support, and English Fluency and Marital Diss atisfaction; Financial Concern and Social Support, and Financial Concern and Marital Dissatisfaction; Husband Academic Progress and Social Support, and Husband Academic Progress and Marital Dissatisfaction) entered the regressi on equation as a block in the firs t step of the analyses. In the next step, the two-way interactions English Fluency X Social Support and English Fluency X Marital Dissatisfaction; Financ ial Concern X Social Support a nd Financial Concern X Marital

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63 Dissatisfaction; Husbands Academic Progre ss X Social Support and Husband Academic Progress X Marital Dissatisfaction were added separately into the equation. In the first regression, a significant main effect was observed fo r Social Support, such that Psychological Distress decreased as Social Suppor t increased ( p A main effect for English Fluency was not found. The single ma in effect for Social Support accounted for approximately 8% of the variance in Psychologi cal Distress. The English Fluency X Social Support interaction was not significant. In the second regression analysis, a signifi cant main effect was observed for Marital Dissatisfaction, whereas a main effect for Eng lish Fluency was not found. Psychological Distress increased as Marital Dissatisfaction increased ( p Marital Dissatisfaction accounted for approximately 17% of the variance in Psychological Distress. The interaction between English Fluency and Ma rital Dissatisfaction did not significantly qualify the main effect. The results for the third regression revealed a significant main effect for Social Support, whereas a main effect for Financial Concern was not found. Psychological Distress decreased as Social Support increased ( p The single main effect for Social Support accounted for approximately 9% of the variance in Psychological Distress. The interaction between Financial Concern and Social Support did not significantly qualify the main effect. The results for the fourth regression reveal ed a significant main effect for Marital Dissatisfaction, such that Psychological Distress in creased as Marital Diss atisfaction increased ( p The main effect for Financial Concern was marginally significant, such that when Financial Concern increases, Psychological Distress increases ( p The main effects for Financial Con cern and Marital Satisf action accounted for approximately 19% of

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64 the variance in Psychological Distress. The inte raction between Financia l Concern and Marital Dissatisfaction did not significantl y qualify the main effect. The results for the fifth regression analysis revealed significant main effects for Stress Related to Husbands Academic Progress and Soci al Support, such that Psychological Distress increased as Stress Related to Husb ands Academic Progress increased ( p and Psychological Distress decreased as Social Suppor t increased ( p These main effects accounted for approximately 13% of the variance in Psychological Distress. No significant interaction between Stress Related to Husbands Academic Progress and Social Support was found. The results for the sixth regression analysis yielded main effects for Stress Related to Husbands Academic Progress a nd Marital Dissatisfaction such that Psychological Distress increased as Stress Related to Husb ands Academic Progress increased ( p and Psychological Distress increased as Ma rital Dissatisfaction increased ( p These main effects accounted for approximately 20% of the variance in Psychological Distress. No significant interaction between Stress Related to Husbands Academic Progress and Marital Dissatisfaction was found. .

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65 Table 4 1 VIF and tolerance statistics for predictor variables accultu rative stress, social support, and marital satisfaction in hi erarchical multiple regression models Model Collinearity Statistics Tolerance VIF Acculturation (ASSIS) Social Support (ISSS) Interaction (ASSIS X ISSS) Acculturation (ASSIS) Marital Satisfaction a (RAS) Interaction (ASSIS X RAS) Acculturation (ASSIS) Marital Satisfaction b (RAS) Interaction (ASSIS X RAS) .941 .941 .997 .959 .958 .996 .970 .966 .995 1.063 1.062 1.003 1.043 1.044 1.004 1.031 1.035 1.005 Note Marital Satisfaction a = transformed variable; Marital Satisfaction b = non-transformed variable.

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66Table 4 2 Intercorrelations among primary variables Variable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 1. ASSIS -.24** -.20* -.25-.17*.50**.10.18*-.32**.18*.29**.51**.20* 2. ISSS .93** .94**.22**-.24**.00.02.07-.15-.06-.26**-.21* 3. ISSS-SE .75**.22*-.25**-.04.02.13-.08-.08-.28**-.20* 4. ISSS-I .20*-.20*.03.01.00-.18*-.04-.21*-.19* 5. RAS -.35**-.13.00.17-.11-.26**-.37**-.91** 6. BSI .03.08-.10.18*.29**.99**.38** 7. LRSS-C .26**-.07.09.24**.04.09 8. LRSS-H -.80-.02.15.09-.03 9. EF .07-.04-.12-.20* 10. ILS-FC .31**.18*.07 11. ILS-HAP .27**.22* 12. BSI adj .41** 13. MS adj Note. N = 134; ** p < .01; p < .05; ASSIS = A cculturative Stress; ISSS = Index of Sojour ner Social Support; ISSS-SE = Index of Sojourner Social Support Socio-Emotiona l; ISSS-I = Index of Sojourner Social Suppor t Instrumental; RAS = Marital Satisfacti on; BSI = Brief Symptoms Inventory (Psychological Distress); LRSS-C = Life Role Saliency Scale Occupational Reward Value Scale (Career); LRSS-H = Life Role Saliency Scale Homecare Role Rewa rd Value Scale (Homemaker); EF = English Fluency; ILS-FC = Index of Life Stress Financial; Concerns; ILS-HAP = Index of Life Stress Husband Ac ademic Progress; BSI adj = transformed; MS adj = transformed (negative).

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67 Table 4 3 Intercorrelations among acculturativ e stress, social support, marital satisfaction, psychological distress and secondary variables Variable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1. ASSIS -.24** -.20*-.25-.17*.50**-.04-.20* .07 2. ISSS .93**.94**.22**-.24**-.02.22* ,09 3. ISSSSE -.75**.22*-.25**.02.17* .07 4. ISSS-I -.20*-.20*-.06.23* .10 5. MS --.35**-.00.09 .02 6. BSI --.09.03 -.01 7. Age --.02 .13 8. Services .04 9. Goals Note. ASSIS = Acculturative Stress; ISSS = Index of Sojourner Social Support; ISSS-SE = Index of Sojourner Social Support Socio-Emotiona l; ISSS-I = Index of Sojourner Social Support Instrumental; RAS = Marital Satisfaction; BSI =Brief Symptoms I nventory Psychological Distress; Services = Number of Services pr esent; Goals = number of goals for sojourn.

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68 Table 4 4 Boxs M tests of covariance homogene ity for spouses region of origin, length of stay, visa type, and pres ence/absence of children Source Boxs M p Region of Origin 13.09.90 Length of Stay 25.39.78 Visa Type 11.35.37 Presence/Absence of Children 9.70.51

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69 Table 4 5 Mean, standard deviation, and alpha coefficient for primary and secondary variables Variable M SD 1. ASSIS 92.2121.60.93 2. ISSS 48.1014.60.96 3. ISSS-SE 22.577.42.94 4. ISSS-I 25.548.20.95 5. RAS 30.674.07.88 RAS adj .60.36NA 6. BSI 88.2329.79.97 BSI transformed 1.92.14NA 7. LRSS-C 19.323.68.72 8. LRSS-H 19.954.08.82 9. EF 11.422.86.90 10. ILS-FC 7.322.76.81 11. ILS-HAP 8.152.77.56 12. Age 29.484.20NA Note. ASSIS = Acculturative Stress; ISSS = Index of Sojourner Social Support; ISSS-SE = Index of Sojourner Social Support Socio-Emotiona l; ISSS-I = Index of Sojourner Social Support Instrumental; RAS = Marital Satisfaction; BSI =Brief Symptoms I nventory Psychological Distress; LRSS-C = Life Role Saliency Scale Occupational Reward Value Scale (Career); LRSS-H = Life Role Saliency Sc ale Homecare Role Reward Value Scale (Homemaker); EF = English Fluency; ILS-FC = Index of Life Stress Financial Concerns; ILS-HAP = Index of Life Stress Stress Related to Husbands Academic Progress; BSI adj = transformed; MS adj = transformed.

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70 Table 4 6 Hierarchical re gression summary of psychologi cal distress regressed onto acculturative stress and social support Step/Predictor R2 R2 B SEB Step 1 .28*.28* Acculturative Stress .00.00 .48* Social Support .00.00 -.15** Step 2 .00..01 Acculturative Stress .00.00 .47* Social Support .00.00 -.15** Acculturative Stress Social Support .00.00 .01 Note *p <.001; **p = .06.

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71 Table 4 7 Hierarchical re gression summary of psychologi cal distress regressed onto acculturative stress and ma rital dissatisfaction Step/Predictor R2 R2 B SEB Step 1 .35*.35* Acculturative Stress .00 .00.44* Marital Dissatisfaction .13 .03.32* Step 2 .37*.02 Acculturative Stress .00 .00.44* Marital Dissatisfaction .13 .03.33* Acculturative Stress Mari tal Dissatisfaction .00 .00.12 Note *p <.001. p < .09.

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72 1.5 1.65 1.8 1.95 2.1 2.25 Low High Acculturative StressPsychological Distress (Transformed) High Marital Dissatisfaction Low Marital Dissatisfaction Figure 4 1 Predicted psychological distre ss means by acculturative stress and marital dissatisfaction.

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73 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION In this chapter, the p rimary research question addressing the relationship between acculturative stress and psychological distress will be discussed. Similarly, the role of social support and marital satisfaction in the link be tween acculturative stress and psychological distress will be explored. Furt her, secondary and exploratory research questions will be examined. Lastly, the chapter outlines limitations of the cu rrent study, final conclusions, implications for practice, as well as future directions for research. Goals for the Study Over the past several decades, increasingly hi gher num bers of intern ational students have pursued academic training in the United States, and a sizeable group (22. 5%) of international students arrive in the company of their partner or spouse (Institu te of International Education, 2005). While international studen ts cross-cultural ad justment has received considerable attention in the sojourner literature, there is a paucity of research that addresses the unique challenges faced by the accompanying spouse or pa rtner. For the international student, the sojourn is likely defined by a strong focus on e ducational goals such as completing additional training or obtaining a higher degree. In compar ison, the goals and purpose of the stay in the United States are often less defined for the spous es, whose experiences ar e largely dependent on their partners direction and progress (Chang, 2004; De Verthelyi, 1995; Lo, 1993; Schwartz & Kahne, 1993; Shao, 2001; Vogel, 1986). The goal of this study was to examine the rela tionship between potential stressors and the psychological well-being of female spouses of in ternational students. In particular, the studys purpose was to explore the relationship between spouses acculturative stress and psychological adjustment. Further, it aimed to examine the role of social support and marital satisfaction as

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74 potential moderators (buffers) in the link between acculturative stress and psychological adjustment. A number of addi tional, secondary and explorat ory research questions were advanced in order to explore the relationship between potentially stressf ul factors and spouses well-being while sojourning in the United States, a nd to establish a basis for further exploration of spouses adjustment. Interpretations of Results Primary Research Questions Acculturative stres s and psychological distress The first research question addr essed the relationship betwee n spouses acculturative stress and psychological distress. Over all acculturative stress was measured by Sandhu & Asrabadis (1994) ASSIS scale, which assess es perceived discrimination, homesickness, perceived hate, stress due to cultural change/cultural shock, and guilt, whereas the BSI measure taps into negative psychological well-being, including symptoms of anxiety, depression, and somatization, among others (Derogatis & Melisartos, 1983). As hypothesized, a positive relationship between measures of spouses acculturative stress and ps ychological distress was found. In the present sample, higher levels of acculturative stress (A SSIS) were predictive of higher levels of psychological distress (BSI). According to Cohe n (1988), the size of the relationship between acculturative stress and psychol ogical distress can be consid ered medium to large ( r = -.51, p < .01). This finding is consistent with conceptualiza tions outlining a close re lationship between life stressors and mental health symptoms in gene ral (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984; Thoits, 1995), and between acculturative stress and me ntal health in particular (e.g., Church, 1982; Leong & Chou, 1996; Mori, 2000). It also confirms results of pr evious empirical research with samples of international students that reported a positive relationship between acculturative stress and mental health symptoms (Constantine et al., 2004; Lee et al., 2004; Yang & Clum, 1995; Ying &

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75 Han, 2006). While a connection between acculturative stress and mental health symptoms had previously been established for sojourner groups of international students and expatriate spouses, this study extends the literatu re on sojourner adjustment by establishing the link between acculturative stress and psychological distress fo r the subgroup of spouses of international students. Similar to other types of international sojour ners, spouses of intern ational students undergo an adjustment process to unfamiliar physical an d cultural environments that is potentially stressful, and can lead to indi viduals experiencing mental hea lth symptoms (Mori, 2000). Crosscultural literature points to the f act that stress levels encountere d by international students might approach levels of acculturative stress experienced among refugees, which are usually reported as most severe (Berry & Kim, 1988). Similarly, P oyrazli et al. (2004) stat ed that international students lack personal connections upon their arrival and as a consequence are prone to experience considerably greater adjustment difficulties than es tablished ethnic groups. Compared to mean ASSIS scores reported by international students in prev ious studies, sample mean ASSIS scores in the current study were comp arably higher, indicating that spouses of international students experience at least simila r or higher levels of acculturative stress in comparison to foreign student populations (e.g., C onstantine et al., 2004; Poyrazli et al., 2004). The stress and coping literature ha s consistently pointed to the f act that stress, i.e., internal or external demands that required an individual to change his or her functioning, may be linked to mental health symptoms (Lazarus & Folkma n, 1984; Thoits, 1995). Wh ereas negative life events have been shown to predict subsequent psychological distress in general, stressors associated with cross-cultural transitions in the absence of coping mechanisms may be particularly impacting spouses of internati onal students. Upon their sojourn, spouses face

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76 numerous areas that demand adjust ment on their part. These include the disruption of their social network, adjustment to new surroundings (language food, customs, etc.), as well as changes in home and work life. Further, whereas husbands a nd partners may also expe rience a disruption of their personal life upon their sojour n, they are likely to find themse lves in the defined role as a student or trainee and within a network of academic support. Spouses, on the other hand, face the burden of not being institutiona lly connected. Due to the lack of personal and professional connections, they may therefore be particularly vulnerable to the impact of acculturative stressors upon their tran sition, and numerous mental health outcomes have been cited in the spouses literature, including anxiety and depr ession (e.g., De Verthelyi, 1995; Schwartz & Kahne, 1993; Vogel, 1985). Similar to internatio nal students however, spouses may also be reluctant to seek psychologica l help (De Verthelyi, 1995). In addition, psychological distress in spouses of international students could reflect trait as well as state features, meaning that international student spouses may bring distress with them, rather th an experiencing it as a consequence of acculturation experiences (e .g., Costa & McCrae, 1998). Longitudinal work would better be able to assess the contribution of personal variab les that spouses bring to the sojourn. The moderating role of social support and marital satisfaction Social support. First, this study hypothesi zed that social support would act as a buffer in the link between acculturative stress and psychol ogical distress; i.e., it would ameliorate the negative effects of acculturative stress on ps ychological adjustment. Social support was measured by employing the overall score of the IS SS scale, an instrument that assesses both instrumental and socio-emotional support (Ong & Ward, 2005). Whereas instrumental support measures hands-on, practical support, the socioemotional subscale taps into an individuals perceived emotional support and social companionship (Ong & Ward, 2005, p. 638-639).

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77 Social support has been named as a buffer agains t stress, and previous research has established social support as a positive co rrelate of emotional well-being in samples of both expatriate spouses and international students (Copeland & No rell, 2002; Lee et al., 2003; Misra et al, 2003; Poyrazli et al., 2004; Ward et al., 2001). In th e current study, both the combined measure of social support as well as indi vidual subscales failed to m oderate the relationship between acculturative stress and psychological distress. Thus, social support did not qualify the relationship between acculturative stress and mental health sympto ms in our sample of spouses of international students. Previously, no studies had examined the role of social support in the context of spouses of international students. In the cu rrent study, the lack of a moderati ng effect of social support may be due to several factors. First, past studies have pointed to the rela tive importance of social support as a coping strategy duri ng cross-cultural transitions (e .g., Copeland & Norell, 2002; Lee et al., 2003; Misra et al, 2003; Poyrazli et al., 2004). However, no research has empirically explored the unique experience th at spouses of international stude nts may face in relation to the disruption and re-establishment of their social network system Whereas several authors have pointed to the necessity of spouses programs to facilitate spousal adjustment, none of these reports included empirical data on the eff ectiveness of support pr ograms (e.g., Ojo, 1998; Schwartz & Kahne, 1993; Vogel, 198 5). Spouses of international st udents can be viewed as a specific subgroup of international sojourners. Consequently, for spouses of international students, social support, both in strumental and socio-emotiona l, may not represent a coping strategy salient enough to offset the impact of accu lturative stress and its effect on mental health in the manner previously expected. Thus, even though the ISSS scale measured two distinct qualitative components of sojour ner social support, instrumental and socio-emotional support,

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78 the scales items may not have tapped into the unique experience of spous es of international students. Further, findings in the social support lite rature point to the fact that perceived emotional support as opposed to social integratio n is related to better psychological adjustment. Thoits (1995), for example, noted that soc ial integration does not buffer the physical or emotional impacts of major life even ts or chronic difficulties in peoples lives but, on the other hand, perceived emotional support is associated di rectly with better physi cal and mental health (p. 64). The measure employed in this study asked respondents to indicate if you know person(s) who would perform the behaviors descri bed, with participants listing the number of individuals such as no one would do this, some one would do this, etc. It is possible that the ISSS measure (Ong & Ward, 2005) may not have adequately measured the construct of level of perceived social support for the sample in th is study. Thus, the number of individuals providing support may not be equal to the level of social support obtained. It is possible that perceived social support may be high due to a single pe rson providing it (e.g., husband), where a single person providing support would result in a low score on the ISSS social support measure. The importance of a single individuals support can be substantiated by Snyders (1987) findings in a sample of immigrant women. Emotional support fr om ones partner was si gnificantly negatively related to depressive symptomato logy whereas social support from outside sources was not. This points to the weight of direct partner support as the most import ant contributor to the well-being of accompanying spouses. Replication of the cu rrent study employing the ISSS social support scale along with alternative meas ures of sojourner social sup port in additional samples of spouses of international student s will therefore be necessary. Despite the lack of a signif icant moderating effect, correla tions between social support, acculturative stress and psychologi cal distress, respectively, c onfirmed the directions of

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79 relationships in previous findi ngs. (e.g., Poyrazli et al., 2004; Yeh & Inose, 2003). In the current sample, social support was both negatively corr elated with accultura tive stress (r = -.24, p < .01) and psychological distress (r = -.24, p < .01); i.e., higher le vels of social support were related to lower amounts of acculturative stress and to lower levels of psychological distress. Further, when subscales of the social support measures we re considered, socio-emotional support was somewhat less negatively correla ted with acculturative stress (r = -.20, p < .05), than instrumental support ( r = -.25, p <.01), whereas the reverse was true for the relationship between psychological distress and so cio-emotional support ( r = -.25, p < .01) and instrumental support ( r = -.20, p < .05). Socio-emotional support taps into an individuals perceived emotional support and social companionship (Ong & Ward, 2005, p. 638-639), wh ile instrumental support includes tangible assistance and informa tional support (Ong & Ward, 2005, p. 639). Based on hierarchical multiple regression analysis, Ong & Ward (2005) stated that in their examination, instrumental support was more relevant to sojour ner psychological adaptation as measured by the Zung Self-Rating Depression scale (Zung, 1965). In the present sample, instrumental support was more closely associated with acculturative stress than with psychological distress, while the reverse was true for socio-emotional support. The present findings point to the likelihood that instrumental support may be more relevant in overcoming the challenges of acculturation (sample items: explain local culture, deal wi th official rules and regulations, make a situation clearer), whereas socio-emotional support may play an important role in stabilizing an individuals emotional and psyc hological well-being (sample items: share good and bad times, listen and talk with you whenev er you feel lonely and depressed). This finding also supports the assertion by Thoits (1995) and Cohen & Wills (1985) that emotional support is more closely related to psychological well-being than actual social integration. Moreover, the findings of the

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80 current study lend support to Ong & Wards ( 2005) notion that socio-emotional support and instrumental support can be viewed as di fferent but related co nstructs (2005). On the other hand, a quantitative measure of so journer social support, such as provided by the ISSS scale (Ong & Ward, 2005), may not adequa tely measure perceived social support for spouses of international students. Dependent on th e sojourners role, the quality of a close and supportive relationship with ones partner may become more salient, as the unit of the sojourning couple may find itself isolated from immediate social support, and long di stance support may not adequately provide the coping needs in the ad justment situation. In comparison, individual sojourners, e.g., unaccompanied international stud ents, may be more reliant on finding a support network in the host culture. Future research should aim to disti nguish between various sojourner roles and the type of social support needed by each group. Marital satisfaction Similarly, it was hypothesized that marital satisfaction would exhibit a moderating effect in the link between accultura tive stress and psychological distress. Marital satisfaction was assessed through the Relations hip Assessment Scale (R AS), a self-report measure of relationship satisfacti on (Hendrick, 1988). Due to data transformation in the analysis phase of this study, marital satisf action scores were reversed. Th erefore, and in order to be consistent with the report on the data analyses, the term marital dissatisfaction will be used if appropriate for subsequent di scussions (see chapter 4). As predicted, marital dissatisfaction exhibi ted a significant moderating effect in the link between acculturative stress and psychological adjustment. Therefore, the positive relationship between levels of acculturative stress and psycho logical distress was qualified by the presence or absence of marital dissa tisfaction (see Figure 5 1). At high levels of acculturative stress, both high and low marital dissatisfaction qualified the effect of acculturative stress on psychological

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81 distress. That increase was not as marked for low marital dissatisfaction. At high acculturative stress levels, the difference between high and low marital dissatisfaction accounted for 26 points on the BSI scale, which is nearly one standard deviation, whereas at low acculturative stress level, the difference was 10 points on the BSI scale (.33 standard deviations). In other words, at high levels of acculturative stress, high marital dissatisfaction exacer bated the effects of acculturative stress on psychological distress. Simila rly, at high levels of acculturative stress, low marital dissatisfaction attenuate d the effect of acculturative stre ss on psychological distress. The spread between individuals experi encing high or low levels of mar ital satisfaction is of practical importance. Thus, individuals who report high mari tal dissatisfaction (low marital satisfaction) tend to score higher on psychological distre ss at high acculturative stress levels, while individuals with low marital di ssatisfaction (high marital satisfaction) tend to score lower on measures of psychological distress at high acculturative stress levels. The finding points to the relevance of marital sa tisfaction as a salient factor in the crosscultural adjustment experience of spouses of international students. It also esta blishes marital satisfaction as a moderator in the link between a cculturative stress and psychological distress. A limited amount of previous literature has estab lished marital satisfaction as a stress buffer for successful cross-cultural transiti ons. This finding lends support to Sweatmans (1999) findings that general marital satisfaction predicted depression scores in a sample of missionary couples. However, the comparison is limited by the fact that Sweatman assess ed couples individual scores but failed to report differences acco rding to gender or role (Sweatman, 1999). The cross-cultural transition may put more stress on the couple as a unit, and the quality of their marital relationship may in turn affect the ad justment to a new culture. In their review of the literature, Schwartz & Kahne (1993) highlighted the importance of the so cial relationship with

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82 ones partner in the broader cont ext of intercultural adjustment, as well as the stress put on families during cultural transitions. Qualitative accounts on spouses of international students cross-cultural adjustment have similarly emphasi zed the significance of the relationship between spouses marital satisfaction and spouses psychological adjustment (De Verthelyi, 1995; Chang, 2004; Shao, 2001). Evidently, individuals experiencing high accultu rative stress may be more at risk for experiencing mental health symptoms, and the risk may in turn be exacerbated or diminished by the presence or absence of marital satisfaction. Fi ndings in this study show that perceiving ones marital relationship as intact and fulfilling, may in turn offset some of the stressors experienced and serve as an important coping mechanism. The reverse is true for s pouses with low marital satisfaction, who, as a consequence, may lack su fficient coping strate gies and experience increased stress reactions. Spouses may have limi ted access to a larger personal and professional network, which in turn may increase their dependence on their part ners. Whereas coping resources may have been distributed across fam ily members and friends in the past, the crosscultural transition may shift the focus primarily on the relationship. If the relationship is intact, spouses tend to benefit, whereas if they experience low marital satisfaction, their coping strategies my be limited and they may be at risk for psychological distress. Importantly, the couples cross-cultural transiti on appears to put emphasis on the quality of the marital relationship. Whereas for some spouses this transition may go hand in hand with a positive view of the relationship, for others, the transition may be more difficult if the marital relationship is not fulfilling. Vogel (1986), for example, in her study on Japanese wives at Harvard, contended that spouses, who previously relied on support from female relatives at home, are not able to replace these close bonds with new acquaintances during their sojourn.

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83 Instead they grow a closer bond w ith their husbands, to the extent that their union represents a nuclear family (Vogel, 1986, p. 277), where the husband spends more time with his family () and there is more socializing as a coupl e (p. 277). Similarly, in her qualitative study interviewing Chinese wives of inte rnational students, Shao (2001) re ported that the lack of social obligations had led to a str onger interdependence between hu sband and wife, with spouses serving as the international st udents primary source of soci al support. Similarly, in her qualitative study on Taiwanese couples sojourning in the United States, Chang (2004) noted that while some couples benefited from less social ob ligations toward their families back home, the lack of resources in a foreign country facilitated the codepe ndence between husband and wife (p. 242), and more need by the spouses to express their emotions to their husbands while in the United States as opposed to close friends in th e past. Based on her findi ngs, Chang (2004) also suggested that the impact of the couples i ndividual acculturation level may be favorable or unfavorable on marital satisfacti on, and should thus be taken into consideration when working with distressed Taiwanese couples. Evidently, the couples cross-cultu ral transition appears to shift priorities and social roles within the relationship and may lead to a closer bond between the couple. Consequently, the quality of the relationship becomes more salient and its perceived quality may in turn affect the mental well-being of the spouses. The limited acc ess to family and other support systems may exacerbate an already stressful situation, if the relationship is perceived as unsatisfactory. Even though spouses may have contact with friends and family through Inte rnet and telephone communication, their everyday experience may be limited to the couples existence. Bonds that had been established over years in their hom e country may not easily be replaced by new acquaintances, and naturally, spouses may turn to their husbands for social support. At the same

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84 time, husbands may need to put a considerable am ount of effort into their academic training, and may in turn not be readily available. With a lack of alternative coping strategies at hand, spouses high on acculturative stress and low on marital sati sfaction may in turn be experiencing more mental health problems. Due to this study being cross-sectional, no ev idence was gathered as to the pre-arrival status of the marital relations hip quality and its effect on post-arrival quality. Shao (2001) indicated that the painful experience of adjustme nt may in turn have an effect on the marital relationship. In this study, no c onclusion can be drawn as to whet her marital satisfaction changed over the course of the cross-cultur al transition, and whethe r it did so for the couple as a whole or differently the individuals. In the future, l ongitudinal approaches to the study of marital satisfaction of spouses and their partners may assist in examining the impact of cultural transitions on sojourning international student couples. Social support and marital satisfaction: a comparison Notably, whereas marital satisfaction did m odify the relationship between acculturative stress and psychological distress in this sample, social support did not. Even though interrelated, marital satisfaction and social suppor t appear to be two different fact ors, especially in the context of a familys cross-cultural tran sition. Snyder (1987), for exampl e, found that in a sample of Mexican immigrant women, external social support was not related to depressive symptomatology and acculturative st ress, whereas internal social support (the pe rceived social support from ones partner) was significantly re lated to depressive symptomatology, with less internal social support predicting more depressive symptomatology. This di stinction hints at the role and importance of social support versus mar ital satisfaction in the cross-cultural transition. Whereas marital satisfaction becomes an important contributor, social su pport in the form of a social support network takes a secondary role In a study by Poyrazli et al. (2004), married

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85 international students showed great er levels of social support, wh ich points to the saliency of inter-couple support for sojourner families. Thus, in their effort to cope w ith the stress of living in a foreign country, the quality of a couples relationship appear s to be more central for the spouses than the amount of social support at hand. For single international student s, establishing a social network may present a primary coping strategy in the cultural adjustment process, a fact that studies on international students have consistently pointed out (Lee et al., 2003; Misra et al., 2003; Poyrazli et al., 2004). Comparably, the transition of a couple to the United States may lead indivi duals to rely heavily on each other, and marital satisfact ion in turn receives a primary role, and where the marriage is required to bear the whole weight of rela tional needs and providing social support when previously this support had been supplied by numerous people and communities (Sweatman, 1999, p. 16). Similarly, Adelegan and Parks (1985) point ed to the fact that married students have greater difficulty establishing a social network u pon their sojourn (cited in De Verthelyi, p. 390). This circumstance could increase a couples soci al isolation, and their reliance on each other. Spouses whose marriage is intact and well functioning may benef it from a closer bond, whereas spouses cross-cultural adjustment and mental health may be at risk if they report an unfulfilling marital situation. The current findings have implications for th e planning of family support programs. First, spouses often do not have the individual right to access mental health services on college campuses and often can only do so in conjuncti on with their partners who are fee-paying students. This may prevent spouses in need of se rvice from seeking help, whereas they may also be reluctant to ask their partner to join them for counseling, or part ners may be unwilling to do so. Second, while necessary and helpful, spous al support groups often focus primarily on

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86 everyday needs of spouses while not adequately addre ssing the potential need s of couples during the adjustment process. Shao (2001), for example, noted that during the cultural transition, the marital relationship has to be redefined, and th e new situation and circumstances may create conflict. To serve intern ational students well, the marital relationship of students ought to be taken into account. Third, United States universities have recognized the importance of providing support services for international students dur ing their sojourn. Similarly, universities and international centers need to become aware of the needs of spouses, and the potential impact of spouses well-being on international students academic success. Chun (1994), for example, discussed a couples family situation as one of the aspects that determined failure among Japanese expatriates, and Bl ack and Stephens (1989) reporte d a strong correlation between adjustment levels of expatriates and their s pouses. Fourth, national co mmunities may vary in their level of support, and group comparisons may assist in learning about differences between nationalities and various ethnic communities. Finally, preventive measures (information, orientation, etc.) to ensure support for the couple as a unit may be necessary at the beginning as well as during the couples sojourn. Secondary Research Questions In addition, a num ber of additional potent ial stressors and their relationship to psychological distress were examined. It was hypothesized that spouses English fluency, financial concerns, and stress about husbands academic progress would be positively related to spouses psychological distress. In addition, the relationship between number of goals for the sojourn and marital satisfaction, acculturative stre ss, and psychological distress was studied. English fluency In the present sample, no relationship between spouses English fluency and psychological distress was found. This finding is not consistent with previous resear ch (Nwadiora & McAdoo,

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87 1996; Lin & Yin, 1997; Poyrazli et al., 2001; Yang et al., 2005; Yeh & Inoseh, 2002). Since past studies employed samples of international studen ts only, a direct comparison is problematic. In general, English language proficiency may not have been an equally salient factor for spouses of international students in this sample. This re sult should be considered with caution, however. The studys participants consisted of spouses whose English level a ppeared sufficient in order to take the survey. It is possible th at spouses whose English language skills were weaker either did not participate or failed to complete the entirety of the survey, which in turn may have biased the present results. Thus, re plicating the study with psychometric measures translated into spouses major spoken languages may assist in addressi ng this shortcoming. Further, alternative measurements of English fluency should be empl oyed to tap into English proficiency level. Financial concern Results indicated a positive re lationship between levels of spouses financial concern and psychological distress. They are consistent with findings on the relationships between international students levels of financial concerns and psychol ogical distress of international students (Misra et al., 2005). Fina ncial difficulties have been name d as one of the key stressors for international students (C hurch, 1982; Koyama, 2005; Mori, 2000). Naturally, spouses share the financial implications of an overseas m ove, its impact on the couples budget, and the likelihood of a downgrade of th e couples socio-economic stat us (De Verthelyi, 1995). According to the Open Doors report, financial support from family and personal savings are the main source of financial support in sojourning students (IIE, 2005). Similarly, couples often rely on students income through assistantships and tuiti on waivers, without the possibility of outside employment due to visa restric tions. In addition, where spouses may have been able to make financial contributions to th e household in the past, spouses on F-2 dependent visas are prohibited from doing so, unless they resort to illegal employment, such as providing child care

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88 and cleaning services (De Verthelyi, 1995). J-2 de pendents, in contrast, are permitted to seek employment as long as the income does not ma ke a significant contri bution to the couples budget (MIT, International Scholars Office, 2007). Nevertheless, lack of English language skills, unfamiliarity with U.S. job search practices and difficulties of transferring educational degrees may hinder spouses from obtaining employment th at is commensurate with previous career aspirations and level of occupati on. Lastly, internationa l students and spouses may be dependent on fluctuating exchange rates between the U.S. dollar and their home currency (Koyama, 2005). As a result of their limited ability to financially contribute to the household income, spouses may be vigilant as to the couples financial status, which in turn ma y impact their psychological wellbeing. Husband academic progress Similarly, a positive relationship between s pouses concern about husbands academic progress and psychological distress was detected. This finding is consistent with previous, qualitative studies reporting a relationship between spouses concern about their husbands academic progress and stress reactions such as grief and resentment (Shao, 2001). Whereas for international students, the overa ll success of the sojourn is cl osely related to their academic success, spouses may be similarly impacted by th eir partners progress. Spouses often have to temporarily give up their own career goals in order to accompany their partners abroad. In the current sample, 79.9% of the spouses who took the su rvey indicated that they had a job or career before moving to the United States, and 17.9% stat ed that did not pursue a career or job before the transition. Similarly, educat ional levels of accompanying spous es in the current sample are high, with approximately 44% of participants indicating that they hold at least a masters degree, and 46% having graduated from college. Qualitativ e studies on spouses of international students have consistently pointed to th e professional role cha nges that spouses of international students

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89 undergo, i.e., from having worked full-time before relocation, to that of a homemaker after (e.g., De Verthelyi, 1995). Further, academic performance by the internat ional student may direc tly impact length of stay and the securing of fellowships and schol arships (Koyama, 2005). The temporary disruption of spouses career goals and aspi rations as well as limited inco me may put additional focus on their partners academic performance. In our sample, spouses stress related to husbands academic progress also significantly and negatively predicted marital satisfaction scores (r =.26, p < .01). Therefore, we may concl ude that stress associated w ith husbands academic progress could potentially negatively impact the percep tion of the couples relationship, which in turn may contribute to difficulties in the adjustment process. Number of goals for the sojourn First, the relationship between the number of goals spouses identifie d during their sojourn and their level of acculturative stress and psychological distress was examined. It was hypothesized that a higher number of goals was associated with lower levels of acculturative stress and psychological distress. In the current sample, no rela tionship between number of goals, acculturative stress and psychologi cal distress was found. Spouses of international students may vary as to their purpose for th e sojourn, with some individuals identifying one or more personal goals for their stay. In addition to selecting sample goals in th e survey provided, spouses also provided written, self-generated goals. Being clear about ones goals, i.e., identifying one or several personal projects, provides a sense of purpose and orientation for spouses of international student s (Furnham & Bochner, 1986; De Verthelyi, 1995). Based on her qualitative interviews, De Verthelyi (1995) concluded that spouses well-being was relate d to their ability to identify goa ls for the sojourn. The author indicated that identifying a persona l goal may serve as a coping strate gy to assist with feelings of

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90 loss, provide purpose, and influen ce the degree to which the sojour n is seen as satisfactory (De Verthelyi, 1995). In this study, however, the number of goals was neither predictive of spouses acculturative stress nor of psychological adjustment. In the current study, spouses indicated the number of goals for their sojourn. It is possible that the number of goals stated may not dir ectly correspond to actua l goals pursued. Thus, measuring spouses goals may be improved by incl uding psychometric measurements that assess alternative constructs such as goal-orientation or self-efficacy, for example. Exploratory Research Questions Exploratory questions w ere desi gned to empirically validate a number of statements that had been derived from qualitative studies on sp ouses of international students. These included research questions addressing couples simulta neous versus separate arrival and decisionmaking. Further, the relationship between spouses perceived level of soci al support and number of spouses programs at their partners universit ies was explored. Finall y, moderating effects of social support and marital satisfaction in the link between English fluency, financial concern, stress related to husbands academic progress and psychological distress were examined. Simultaneous versus separate arrival First, the question as to whethe r simultaneous versus separate arrival was related to marital satisfaction was explored. Previ ous qualitative studies on spouses of international students addressed the potential impact of a couples separate versus simulta neous arrival. In general, it was noted that simultaneous arriva l benefited the marital relationshi p due to the fact that couples are going through the experi ence of arriving in a foreign coun try together and are sharing the challenges of the cultural transition (De Verthe lyi, 1995). Similary, in a sample of five interviews with female Chinese spouses, Shoa (2004) observed that t he longer the couple was separated before reunion, the more likely they would have marital problems (p. 4). In turn, this

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91 study examined the difference between separate versus simultaneous arrival on levels of marital satisfaction, acculturative stress, and psychological distress. No relationship between separate versus simultaneous arrival and levels of marital satisfaction, acculturative stress, and psychological distress was found. Thus, on these three dimensions, spouses who had arrived simultaneously with their partners did not significantly differ from spouses who had arrived after their partners on measures of marital satisfacti on, acculturative stress, a nd psychological distress. The absence of a statistical relationship betw een the two arrival scenarios and aspects of psychological distress appears inconsistent with stresses that might accompany separation, and for this reason this effect may merit future at tention. Similarly, examining different lengths of separation in relation to spouses ad justment levels may assist in further exploring this issue. Decision making about sojourn Couples may differ in their approach to d ecision-making about the sojourn. Some couples engage in a collaborative pro cess of deciding about the sojourn, whereas others have a more unilateral decision-making pro cess, with the husband primarily making the decision. In the current sample, 69.4% of the partic ipants specified that they had made the decision to come to the United States together with their husbands, 20.1% responded that t heir husband had made the decision because it was important for his car eer, and 10.4% responded in the category of other. In turn, the couples type of decisionmaking and spouses levels of marital satisfaction, acculturative stress and psychological distress we re examined. In the current study, type of decision-making, joint versus husband, failed to ha ve an effect on spouses levels of marital satisfaction, acculturative stress and psychological distress. In her qualitative study on sojourning spouses, De Verthelyi (1995) not ed that out of 49 spouses interviewed, the majority [] named th eir husband as the sole originator of the sojourn (p. 394). Further, De Ve rthelyi also stated that spouses prioritizing their own needs

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92 collided with two basic cultural and family ba sed injunctions which seemed to overrule any opposition to the overseas project: the social prestig e of a foreign degree and the traditional value placed on the wifes duty to follow her husband (p. 394). Cultural variations in couples decision-making strategies may partially explain the lack of an e ffect in the current sample. In couples whose mode of relationship is of a hierarchical nature, i.e., most of the power is assumed by the male member of the family, the decisi on about a sojourn may not be questioned by the spouses and family, and therefore be unrelated to ones perceive d marital satisfaction and stress levels. Additional exploration of cultural differences in couples decision-making practices may assist in further exploring the notion of moving and choice (Silber stein & Fowler, 1989). Presence of spouses programs The number of spouses programs available at their husbands unive rsity was reported by the participants. In turn, rela tionships between number of s pouses programs and spouses perceived level of social support, accultura tive stress and psychological distress were investigated. Results indicated that the number of spouses prog rams was predictive of spouses perceived level of support. In particular, numbe r of spouses programs present was more highly associated with perceived instrumental support ( r = .23, p < .05) than it was with socioemotional support ( r = .17, p < .05). The number of spouses progr ams was also related to lower levels of acculturative stress (r = -.20, p < .05), but it was unrelated to spouses psychological distress. Numerous studies have pointed to the importance of spouses programs provided by universities in order to assist spouses adjustment process (Vogel, 1986; Schwartz & Kahne, 1993). According to this study, the number of programs is also i ndicative of the type of support perceived. Instrumental suppor t was defined as hands-on support (Ong & Ward, 2005). Therefore, spouses programs appear to provide the type of support needed when navigating the

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93 stressful circumstances of cultural transitions. Similarly, spouses support groups may also be a place for mutual support. In turn, spouses programs are related to lower levels of acculturative stress and thus may assist in offsetting some of the stressors that spouses experience during their sojourn. Occupational and homemaker role reward value The relationship between spouses Occupationa l and Homemaker Role Reward Value and psychological distress was examined. Occupational and Homemaker Role Reward Value comprise tow of the subscales of the Life Role Salience Scales (LRSS; Amatea et al., 1986). No relationship was found between th e value that spouses attribut e to the role of career and homemaking and spouses level of psychological distress. Spouses may experience profound role changes during their sojourn in the United States, which in turn affects their career development. Several factors are likely c ontributing to shifts in career-related identities, includi ng visa restrictions allowing for no or limited work opportunities, differences between home and foreign identities financial dependence on partners, and change from an active professional life to that of a more traditional homemaker (Chang, 2004; Day, 2003; De Verthelyi, 1995). Based on her qualita tive study, De Verthely i (1995) had concluded that the amount of acceptance or rejection of spouses traditiona l role as a homemaker during the sojourn was related to spouses psychological adju stment. Additional, alternative measures to assess spouses career orientation should be employed to further investigate issues related to spouses career development during their sojourn. Moderator effects Lastly, the potentially moderating effects of social support and marita l satisfaction in the link between English fluency, financial concer n, and stress related to husbands academic progress, and psychological distre ss were investigated. No moderato r effects were detected in the

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94 relationship between English fl uency, financial concern, stress related to husbands academic progress and psychological distre ss. Social support and marita l satisfaction do not have a buffering effect between these stressors and stress outcome. Limitations When interpreting the results of this study, the following lim itations should be taken into consideration. First, due to the correlational nature of the study, no conclusi on as to th e cause and effect in the relationship between predictor and outcome variables can be made. Second, participants were not randomly selected, and thus generalization of the present results is limited. Third, the survey relied on self-report and answ ers may not accurately reflect spouses level of stressors, stress outcome, and stress buffers. Four th, since participation occurred on a voluntary basis, self-selection may have bi ased the results. Fifth, the su rvey was presented in English. Spouses with inadequate English language skills may have been precluded from participating or may have been reluctant to complete the surv ey. Whereas spouses who did take the survey indicated their level of understanding in English, the current study was unable to determine how many spouses did not participate or did not co mplete the questionnaire based on their English language skills. Sixth, even though attempts were made to directly contact spouses, participant recruitment often occurred indirectly via administ rators and facilitators of international family and spouses programs, who may or may not ha ve forwarded the recruitment information. Similarly, the study attempted to reach spouses of international students vi a internatio nal student email listservs, and partners may have been relu ctant to forward the information, which in turn may have biased the results. Final Conclusions This study confirm ed the relationship between acculturative stressor s and stress outcome among a sample of spouses of international stud ents, with acculturative stress serving as a

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95 predictor of psychological distress in this subgroup of sojourners. Further, the findings of this study established marital satisfaction as a modera tor in the relationship between acculturative stress and psychological distress. Marital satisfaction exerted a bu ffering effect between stressors and stress outcome in the current sample, while social support did not. High and low marital satisfaction both qualified the relationship be tween high acculturative stress and psychological distress. Overall, this study establishe d the relative importance of ma rital satisfaction for spouses during their sojourn. Several aut hors have pinpointed the tighteni ng of a couples relationship as a result of the cross-cultural transition. In turn, the clos e bond may have both positive and negative effects on spouses, depe nding on the quality of their rela tionship. Spouses who perceive a lack of marital satisfaction and find themselv es without an immediate social network in the new surroundings, may thus have limited coping st rategies at hand and in turn experience higher levels of psychological distress. On the other hand, high levels of ma rital satisfaction may ameliorate/offset acculturative stress and its im pact on psychological distress. Thus, marital satisfaction, and the quality of th e marital relationship, serves as a salient concomitant in the cultural adjustment proce ss of spouses and needs to be taken into account by university offices in their work with inte rnational students and spouses alike. Further, a number of secondary and explor atory research questions were examined. Financial concerns and stress related to husbands academic progress were identified as stressors that predicted psychological dist ress in spouses of internationa l students. Further, this study revealed a relationship between spouses perc eived social support and the number of spouses programs present at their husbands universities Evidently, an increased number of spouses

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96 programs is related to higher social support meas ures in the current sample, and related to instrumental support in particular. Finally, no relationship was found between numbe r of goals for the sojourn and the main variables acculturative stress, marital sati sfaction and psychological distress. Nor were differences detected between simultaneous versus separate arrival or joint versus husband decision-making on the main variables accultu rative stress, marital satisfaction and psychological distress. Implications for Practice Spouses of international students continue to represent an invisible group on university cam puses. In order to serve th e international student population and their accompanying families well, spouses have to be taken into account by United States higher education institutions. Thus, increased awareness of the presence of international student families and the issues associated with families living abroad should be addressed by United States higher education institutions in several ways. International office staff, academic advisors, and training directors may benefit from becoming increasingly knowledgeable about the experience of spous es of international students as they accompany their partners to comp lete training abroad. Preventive and remedial measures to assist spouses of internationa l students, international student couples, and international students accompanied by family me mbers, could be adopted by various college offices working with international students. Additional research evidence in the form of quasiexperimental and experimental studies should be collected to support potential measures that could assist spouses during their stay and warrant claims for inte rvention. Based on the results of the current study, several suggestions for practices with spouses of international students and international couples will be put forward.

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97 1. Increased awareness about the presence of s pouses of international students on college and university campuses may heighten the sensit ivity toward the needs of this particular population. With nearly 23% of international gr aduate students arriving in the United States accompanied by their partners, international and a cademic advisors should integrate knowledge about spouses issues and challenges into th eir work with international students. 2. In addition to offering support programs primarily geared toward spouses of international students, additional support could be provided for couples arriving for the sojourn together. This may include ade quate pre-arrival information fo r international students about living and studying in the United States as a coup le, as well as providing information geared toward spouses of international students that ad equately addresses the challenges of living in the United States on a dependent visa status. Fowler & Silberstein (1987) noted that an overseas move has the potential to complete ly disrupt a family unit due to th e lack of social and emotional support. The authors suggest that staff working with international families ought to engage in stress inoculation training in the preparatory phase of a move in order to help families make their adjustment more successful (e.g., Meichenbaum, 1985). 3. While social support remains an important component of well-bei ng, marital satisfaction could be taken into consideration while developi ng spouses services. Upon arrival, orientation sessions for sojourning couples co uld be held by international st udent offices, and information for family support could be disseminated in ma jor languages spoken by international students. These may address some of the challenges that couples could potentially face during their sojourn together and solutions they make take including couples counseling. Information could include topics such as domestic violence and pa rtner abuse, and couples could be directed to appropriate resources in the event th at they encountered these issues.

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98 4. Connecting international st udent spouses via a separate listserv may assist in establishing a sense of community and connection to the university. The listserv could connect spouses to the university by disseminating informati on about events. It may also serve to provide tips and assistance among its members. A numbe r of private and stat e universities have successfully initiated listserv and spouses a nd partner programs, including MIT, Harvard, Yale, and UC Berkeley. 5. Spouses of international students may be reluctant to seek counseling. Therefore, international families could be provided with information about the nature and process of counseling. Outreach activities by counseling centers to disseminate information about the nature and purpose of counseling could be included with th e provision of services by international staff members. 6. Spouses programs may address the career role changes that spouses undergo by providing career planning courses geared toward this population. Spouses on J-2 dependent visas may benefit from learning about job search st rategies and practice interviewing techniques to enter the United States job market. Spouses on visas that pr ohibit them from working in the United States may be assisted by long-term caree r planning resources that would allow for them to create and integrate activities during their sojourn (e.g., volunteering and skill-enhancing activities). In order to do so, spouses should be eligible to receive services at campus career centers as part of their husba nds academic training. Similarly, career services for spouses could be offered through international student offices. 7. Spouses may experience limited access to unive rsity counseling centers. Most university counseling centers offer services solely to re gistered, full-time students, which excludes the

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99 spouses population. In order to a ssist spouses and intern ational students alik e, spouses should be able to receive services both indivi dually and as part of a couple. Future Research The goal of this study was to establish a ba sis for understanding th e relationship betw een stressors, stress buffers, and stress outcomes among spouses of interna tional student spouses. Due to the lack of previous empi rical research with spouses of in ternational students, the nature of this study was exploratory. It is among the first studies to collect data from a sample of spouses across the United States. Fowler and Silb erstein (1989) noted that although the field has advanced its understanding of family dynamics, family stress, and coping, very few mental health models are being applied specifically to the dynamics of families undergoing the stress of relocation to a foreign environment (p. 119) In order to broaden the understanding of sojourning spouses, additional research compar able to the present study will be necessary. Further research may include: 1. A replication of the present study with spouses of international students who are accompanying their partners to the United States This study collected data from female spouses only. Future research may include a comparison of spouses experience by gender and comparison with non-international stud ents. Cross-cultural comparison, e.g., with spouses sojourning in Canada under differe nt visa regulations, may also aid in understanding the adjustment pro cess of spouses of internatio nal students in the United States. 2. A replication of the present study utilizing questionnaires that were translated into the main languages of international student spouse s populations. This may ensure access to segments of the spouses population who were una ble to complete the survey administered in English. 3. A replication of the pr esent study examining the rela tive contribution of marital satisfaction and social support in samples of spouses and their in ternational student partners. 4. A replication of the presen t study employing a mixed method a pproach in order to identify potential stressors and empiri cally validate stressors across a variety of international student spouses samples.

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100 5. Research utilizing a longitudinal and/or seque ntial approach in order to identify changes to factors influencing the sojourn (potential st ressor, marital satisf action, social support, psychological distress) across th e duration of the sojourn. 6. Research identifying factors that contribute to positive adjustment, including personality factors. 7. Research examining the potential crossove r effect of spouses and partners in the adjustment process (Caligiuri, Hyland, Joshi, & Bross, 1998; Fukuda & Chun, 1994; Takeuchi, Yun, & Tesluk, 2002; Shaffer, 1996). 8. Similarly, research addressing family stress and family coping. What makes some couples more successful at adjusting to the cr oss-cultural transition than others? 9. Examine help-seeking behavior among spouses of international students in order to develop appropriate intervention models. 10. Research addressing cultural differences in the expression of mental health symptoms and perception of social suppor t and marital satisfaction. 11. Assess cultural orientation, e.g., collectivistic versus individualistic orientation in relation to stressors, stress buffers, and stre ss outcome (e.g., Markus & Kitayama, 1991). 12. Assess level of acculturation of spouses and pa rtners in relation to stressors, stress buffers, and stress outcome (e.g., Chang, 2004). 13. In research on intern ational students, include marital stat us of participan ts in order to compare the adjustment process of internationa l students who arrive on their own to that of partnered students.

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101 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 LowHigh Acculturative StressPsychological Distress High Marital Dissatisfaction Low Marital Dissatisfaction Figure 5 1 Predicted psychological distress mean s by acculturative stress and marital dissatisfaction. Original BSI-scale.

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102 APPENDIX A DEMOGRAPHIC QUESTIONNAIRE What is your age (e.g., 25, 36, etc.)? ___ What is your gender? Please select: male/female What is your legal home country? (e.g., India, Spain, China, etc.) __ What is your ethnicity/race (e.g., White, Black, Asian, etc.) __ What US state do you live in? (e.g., Florida) __ What is your visa type? (e.g., F-2, M-2, etc.) __ What is your native language(s) (e.g., Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, etc.)? __ What is the highest level of education that you have completed? 1 Some High School 4 Graduated College 2 Graduated High School 5 Masters Degree 3 Some College 6 PhD In what month/year did you and your hu sband get married? (e.g., May, 1997) __ When did YOU come to the USA? (e.g., January 2004) __ When did your husband come to the US A? (arrived together OR month/year) __ Do you have children, yes/no How many children live in the US with you? ___ How did you decide to come to the USA? 1 My husband and I made the decision together 2 My husband made the decision because it was important for his career 3 Other: please type in field below For me, moving to the US was: 1 desirable 2 undesirable 3 hard to say Did you have a job/career in your home countr y before moving to the US? YES / NO If yes, how long did you work in your job? 1 Less than 1 year 3 3-5 years 2 1-3 years 4 More than 5 years What services does your husbands university offer for spouses of international students? (circle all that apply) 1 English classes 5 Online information 2 Spouses Groups 6 Family programs 3 Advising 4 Spouses Welcome Orientation 7 Other: Have you participated in any of these services? If yes, which ones? What personal goals do you have for your stay in the US? (Circle all that apply) 1 Raising children 5 Traveling 2 Learning English 6 Finding a job

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103 3 Making Friends 7 I have no goal 4 Going to University 8 Other: If you chose more than one goal above, please indicate your top choices: 1 2 3 What is your husbands area of study? 1 Business and Management 4 Physical and Life Sciences 2 Math/Computer Sciences 5 Social Sciences 3 Engineering 6 Other: What type of university does your husband study at? 1. private 2 state Please estimate the total number of student enrollment at your husbands university: Below 10,000 10-20,000 20 30,000 30-40,000 above 40,000 On a scale of 1 to 10, how easy or hard was it for you to understand the English in this survey? (easy = I understood everything; hard = I had a lot of diffic ulty understanding the la nguage in this survey)

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104 APPENDIX B INFORMED CONSENT FORM

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105 APPENDIX C IRB PROTOCOL

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106 APPENDIX D PARTICIPANT LETTER

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107 APPENDIX E PARTICIPANT FLYER

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108 REFERENCE LIST Abe, J., Talbot, D.M., & Geelhoed, R.J. (1998) Effects of peer pr ogram on international student adjustment. Journal of College Development, 39, 539-547. Adelegan, F.O., & Parks, D.J. (1985). Problems of transition for African students in an American University. Journal of College Student Personnel, 26 505-508. Aiken, L. S., & West, S.G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Ali, A., van der Zee, K., Sanders, G. (2003). Determinants of intercultural adjustment among expatriate spouses. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 27 (5), 563-580. Amatea, E.S., Cross, E.G., Clark, J.E., & Bobby X. (1986). Assessing the work and family role expectations of career-o riented men and women: The Life Role Salience Scales. Journal of Marriage & the Family, 48 (4), 831-838. Aneshensel, C.S. (1992). Social stress: Theory and research. Annual Review of Sociology, 18 15-38. Aroian, K.J., Patsdaughter, C.A., Levin, A., & Gainan, M.E. (1995). Use of the Brief Symptoms Inventory to asse ss psychological distress in three immigrant groups. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 41 (1), 31-46. Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D.A. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistic al considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51 (6), 1173-1182. Barratt, M.F., & Huba, M.E. (1994) Factors re lated to internationa l undergraduate student adjustment in an American community. College Student Journal, 28 422. Bennett, D. (2002). Effects of electronic communication on culture shock of spouses of international students Unpublished doctoral disse rtation, West Virginia University. Berry, J.W. (1997). Immigrati on, acculturation, and adaptation. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 46 5-34. Berry, J.W., & Kim, U. (1988). Accultura tion and mental health. In P. Dasen, J.W.Berry, & N. Satorius (Eds.), Health and cross-cultural psychology (pp. 207236). London: Sage. Black, J.S. (1988). Work role transitions: A st udy of American expatriate managers in Japan. Journal of International Business Studies, 19 533-546.

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112 Koyama, C. (2005). Acculturation stress and alcohol use among international college students in a U.S. commu nity college setting Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia. Kraut, R., Patterson, M., Lundmark, V., Kies ler, S., Mukophadhyay, T., & Scherlis, W. (1998). Internet paradox: A so cial technology that reduces social involvement and psychological well-being? American Psychologist, 53 1017-1023. Lazarus, R.S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, coping, and appraisal New York: Springer. Lee, J., Koeske, G. F., & Sales, E. (2004). Social support buffering of acculturative stress: A study of mental health symptoms am ong Korean international students. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 28 (5), 399-414. Leong, F. T. L., & Chou, E. L. (1996). Counse ling international stud ents. In P. B. Pedersen, J. G. Draguns, W. J. Lonner, & J. E. Trimble (Eds.), Counseling across cultures (pp. 210-242). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Leininger, M. (1992) Current issues, problems, and tre nds to advance qualitative paradigmatic research methods for the future. Qualitative Health Research, 2 392-415. Liao, S.C., Lee, Y.-J., Liu, S.-K., Lee, M.-B., Wang, S.-C., Chen, J.-S., & Cheng, C.-T. (2002). Acute stress syndromes of rescue workers within one month after major earthquake. Formosan Journal of Medicine, 6 1-9. Lin, J.C.G., & Yi, J.K. (1997). Asian intern ational students adju stment: Issues and program suggestions. College Student Journal, 31 (4), 473-479. Lo, W.A (1993). Sojourner adjustment: The experience of wives of mainland Chinese graduate students Unpublished doctoral Disser tation, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia. Lysgaard, S. (1955). Adjustment in a foreign society: Norwegian Fulbright grantees visiting the United States. International Social Science Bulletin, 7 45-51. Mallinckrodt, B., & Leong, F. T. L. (1992). International graduate students, stress and social support. Journal of College Student Development, 33 71-78. Markus, H.R., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture an d the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological Review, 98 (2), 224-253. McClelland, G.H., & Judd, C.M. (1993). Statistica l difficulties of det ecting interactions and moderator effects. Psychological Bulletin, 114 376 390.

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117 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Monika Bigler was born in 1968, in Thun, Switzer land. As the first m ember of her family to complete a baccalaureate degree, she attended the University of Basel, Switzerland, where she studied German Linguistics and Literature. In 1995, she moved to the Un ited States and first attended Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, FL. She then enrolled at the University of Florida and completed her bachelors and maste rs degrees in psychology from the Department of Psychology at the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. Du ring her enrollment as a doctoral student in counseling psychology, sh e also trained for a Master of Arts in Mass Communication in the College of Journalism and Communicatio n at the University of Florida, with a specialization in documentary film production. Monika Bigler is currently a psychology instructor at Inver Hill s Community College in Inver Grove Heights, MN, and a career planning instructor at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Upon co mpletion of her Ph.D. degree, she will continue to work in the field of career counseling.