Belonging to Three Worlds: Somali Adolescent–Parent Relationships in the United States and Implications for Tobacco Prevention

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Immigrant family relationships help to buffer the adolescent adoption of health risk behaviors but can be strained by post-immigration structural and cultural barriers. This study qualitatively examines how Somali adolescent–parent relationship factors influence Somali adolescent tobacco use and identifies areas for further family support to prevent Somali adolescent tobacco use. We conducted fifteen key informant interviews with professionals serving the Somali community in clinical, educational, religious, or other community organization roles in one Minnesota metropolitan region. Data were collected and analyzed using approaches rooted in Grounded Theory. Key informants contrasted parenting experiences in Somalia with those in the United States and described how four key factors—structural and cultural barriers, multicultural identity formation, evolving parental expectations and responsibilities, and shifting family resources and support—have influenced Somali parent–child relationship quality and function following immigration. Informants shared the implications of these factors on parental ability to address adolescent tobacco use and discussed potential strategies to support parents that fell into two categories: Assisting parents in adapting their parenting approaches to a new context and supporting knowledge and skill development in addressing tobacco use prevention specifically. Incorporating strategies that support Somali parents in their evolving parental roles and attend to structural and cultural barriers to tobacco prevention are essential to consider when developing family-centered tobacco prevention interventions in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3653
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This work was supported through funds from the Joanna Simer Research Fellowship from the University of Minnesota Department of Pediatrics, Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health. Wilhelm’s role on the project was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under National Research Service Award in Primary Medical Care grant number T32HP22239 (PI: Borowsky), Bureau of Health Workforce. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by, HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.


  • adolescent
  • parent–child relationships
  • refugee/immigrant
  • Tobacco
  • Tobacco Use/prevention & control
  • United States
  • Humans
  • Adolescent
  • Somalia
  • Minnesota
  • Emigration and Immigration

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Journal Article


Dive into the research topics of 'Belonging to Three Worlds: Somali Adolescent–Parent Relationships in the United States and Implications for Tobacco Prevention'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this