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Int J Health Serv. 2013;43(2):363-78.

The Iraqi medical brain drain: a cross-sectional study.

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  • 1University of Georgia, College of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Athens, GA 30601, USA.


This study aims to explore the independent predictors of physicians' emigration from Iraq and the emigration temporal trends of Iraqi doctors. We used a convenience sample of Iraqi physicians, extracting their e-mail addresses from public records of Iraqi Medical Association websites and asking them to complete an online survey. Of the 1,395 Iraqi physicians contacted, 599 responded and 567 were eligible for inclusion. Of these, 202 reside in Iraq and the rest live abroad. Doctors abroad describe better work atmospheres, job satisfaction, and training quality. The majority live in English-speaking countries. Of these, 60 percent left Iraq for security reasons, 99 percent left when they were juniors, and 66 percent of those completed their specialty training and settled abroad forever. Of doctors abroad, 17 percent want to return to Iraq, while 50 percent of doctors in Iraq want to leave. Iraqi doctors' rate of emigration peaked in 2006; these figures have since declined, but remain relatively high. Iraq has lost many of its doctors, and emigration is ongoing. The predictors of emigration shifted from financial issues during the 1990s to security and training concerns after 2003. The mass exodus will impact the health care system in the long term.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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