Health status and use of medication and their association with migration related exposures among Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Norway: a cross-sectional study
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonBMC Public Health. 2020, 20:341 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-8376-7
Background The health of forcibly displaced individuals changes along their migration path and estimates of disease burden are essential to develop health care policies and practices adequately corresponding to their health care needs. This study aims to describe the health status and use of medication among Syrian refugees in two different migration phases: in a transit setting and in a recipient country. Further, we aim to investigate the associations between migration related exposures and both chronic pain and mental health among Syrian refugees. Methods This is a cross-sectional study based on survey data collected among 827 adult Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Norway during 2017–2018. The survey instrument included items measuring somatic status (including chronic pain), mental health (using the HSCL-10 and HTQ items), use of medication and migration related exposures. We used descriptive statistics to calculate standardised prevalence proportions and regression analyses to study associations between migration related exposures and health outcomes. Results The response rate was 85%. The mean age in the sample was 33 years and 41% were women. Half of the participants reported that they had never had any health problems. The prevalence of non-communicable diseases was 12%. Headache and musculoskeletal complaints were the most prevalent conditions reported, with 30% reporting chronic pain lasting for more than six months. Symptoms indicating anxiety and/or depression were presented by 35%, while 7% revealed symptoms compatible with post-traumatic stress disorder. Among those reporting non-communicable diseases a substantial share did not seem to receive adequate treatment. Trauma experiences were associated with both chronic pain and anxiety/depression symptoms, and the latter were also associated with migrating without family members. Conclusions Migrant-friendly public health policies and practises should acknowledge migration related risks, address discontinuity in care of chronic conditions and target common complaints such as chronic pain and mental health problems among forcibly displaced individuals.