Health status and health needs of older refugees from Syria in Lebanon

Jonathan Strong, Christopher Varady, Najla Chahda, Shannon Doocy, Gilbert Burnham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Background: The flight of Syrian and Palestinian families into Lebanon from Syria included a number of olde refugees. This study sought to characterize the physical and emotional conditions, dietary habits, coping practices and living conditions of this elderly population arriving in Lebanon between March 2011 and March 2013 Methods: A systematic selection of 210 older refugees from Syria was drawn from a listing of 1800 refugees ove age 60 receiving assistance from the Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center (CLMC) or the Palestinian Women' Humanitarian Organization (PALWHO). CLMC and PALWHO social workers collected qualitative and quantitativ information during 2013 Results: Two-Thirds of older refugees described their health status as poor or very poor. Most reported at leas one non-communicable disease, with 60% having hypertension, 47% reporting diabetes, and 30% indicatin some form of heart disease. Difficulties in affording medicines were reported by 87%. Physicial limitations wer common: 47% reported difficulty walking and 24% reported vision loss. About 10% were physically unable t leave their homes and 4% were bedridden. Most required medical aids such as walking canes and eyeglasses Diet was inadequate with older refugees reporting regularly reducing portion sizes, skipping meals, and limitin intake of fruits, vegetables, and meats. Often this was done to provide more food to younger family members Some 61% of refugees reported feeling anxious, and significant proportions of older persons reported feelings o depression, loneliness, and believing they were a burden to their families. 74% of older refugees indicated varyin degrees of dependency on humanitarian assistance Conclusion: The study concluded older refugees from Syria are a highly vulnerable population needing healt surveillance and targeted assistance. Programs assisting vulnerable populations may concentrate services o women and children leaving the elderly overlooked.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12
JournalConflict and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 9 2015


  • Disabilities
  • Lebanon
  • Non-communicable diseases
  • Older populations
  • Refugees
  • Syrians

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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