Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2011

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Daack-Hirsch, Sandra

First Committee Member

McCarthy, Ann Marie

Second Committee Member

Clark, Kathleen

Third Committee Member

Gerken, Kathryn

Fourth Committee Member

Craft-Rosenberg, Martha


ADHD is a common behavioral problem among children and adolescents and has been studied extensively. However, this disorder is still understudied in ethnic, immigrant minorities in the U.S. such as Arab families. Thus, this descriptive, qualitative study was important and needed because a gap exists in the literature concerning Arab immigrant mothers' perceptions of the children's behavioral problems such as ADHD and the implications of such child behavioral problems within the Arab immigrant family. The available literature has focused on other minorities in the United States and not Arab minorities. Accordingly, this study focused on and took a qualitative approach in order to gain an in-depth understanding of how Arab immigrant mothers perceive, describe and respond to children behavioral problems. The main purpose of this study was to elicit mothers' perceptions of and responses to behavioral problems in children, especially those behaviors associated with ADHD, in a purposeful sample comprised of Arab immigrant Muslim mothers.

The findings of this study indicate that generally, mothers used several terms to describe problematic behaviors in children, words like "active", "overactive", "spoiled", "concentration problems,"...etc. Also, mothers reported several strategies for how they would respond to a child's behaviors if the child exhibited behavioral problems as well as the use of many resources available for handling a child with behavioral problems. Mothers reported various issues they considered to be triggers that would cause them to seek help for a child's behaviors. Moreover, mothers emphasized the issues of social stigma, lack of knowledge, and lack of resources as problems that would hinder them from seeking professional mental health assistance for treating behavioral problems for children in the mothers' country of birth. The results indicated that the mothers' unfavorable attitudes toward seeking formal mental health services are most likely to be affected by cultural and traditional beliefs about mental health problem. Interestingly, mothers reported that their attitudes toward children's behavioral problems differ when in the U.S. than the generally accepted attitudes held in their home countries.

This study added new knowledge and also provided information to social scientists, health care providers, mental health professionals, educators, and policy makers to better understand the needs of Arab immigrant families with children who may suffer from behavioral problems/ADHD. Finally, this study provided information for future researchers who wish to study child behavioral problems/ADHD with immigrant families other than Arabs.


ADHD, Arab, Children's Behavioral Problems


xi, 224 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 196-215).


Copyright 2011 Manar M. AlAzzam

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