Changes in self-rated health and quality of life among Syrian refugees migrating to Norway: a prospective longitudinal study
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionInternational Journal for Equity in Health. 2020, 19, 188. 10.1186/s12939-020-01300-6
Background Forced migrants can be exposed to various stressors that can impact their health and wellbeing. How the different stages in the migration process impacts health is however poorly explored. The aim of this study was to examine changes in self-rated health (SRH) and quality of life (QoL) among a cohort of adult Syrian refugees before and after resettlement in Norway. Method We used a prospective longitudinal study design with two assessment points to examine changes in health among adult Syrian resettlement refugees in Lebanon accepted for resettlement in Norway. We gathered baseline data in 2017/2018 in Lebanon and subsequently at follow-up one year after arrival. The main outcomes were good SRH measured by a single validated item and QoL measured by WHOQOL-BREF. We used generalized estimating equations to investigate changes in outcomes over time and incorporated interaction terms in the models to evaluate effect modifications. Results In total, 353 subjects participated in the study. The percentage of participants reporting good SRH showed a non-significant increase from 58 to 63% RR, 95%CI: 1.1 (1.0, 1.2) from baseline to follow-up while mean values of all four QoL domains increased significantly from baseline to follow-up; the physical domain from 13.7 to 15.7 B, 95%CI: 1.9 (1.6, 2.3), the psychological domain from 12.8 to 14.5 B, 95%CI: 1.7 (1.3, 2.0), social relationships from 13.7 to 15.3 B, 95%CI: 1.6 (1.2, 2.0) and the environmental domain from 9.0 to 14.0 5.1 B, 95%CI: (4.7, 5.4). Positive effect modifiers for improvement in SRH and QoL over time include male gender, younger age, low level of social support and illegal status in transit country. Conclusion Our results show that good SRH remain stable while all four QoL domains improve, most pronounced in the environment domain. Understanding the dynamics of migration and health is a fundamental step in reaching health equity.