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Glob Public Health. 2018 Sep;13(9):1216-1228. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2017.1373838. Epub 2017 Sep 12.

Needs assessment with elder Syrian refugees in Lebanon: Implications for services and interventions.

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a Massachusetts General Hospital , Harvard Medical School , Boston , MA , USA.
b Department of Psychiatry , Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine , Boston , MA , USA.
c Chester Pierce Division of Global Psychiatry , Northeastern University , Boston , MA , USA.


Currently, over 1 million Syrian and Palestinian refugees have fled Syria to take refuge in Lebanon. Among this vulnerable population, elder refugees warrant particular concern, as they shoulder a host of additional health and safety issues that require additional resources. However, the specific needs of elder refugees are often overlooked, especially during times of crisis. Our study used a semi-structured interview to survey the needs of elder refugees and understand their perceived support from Lebanese fieldworkers. Results indicate a high prevalence of depression and cognitive deficits in elder refugees, who expressed concerns surrounding illness, loneliness, war, and instability. Elders highlighted the importance of family connectedness in fostering security and normalcy and in building resilience during times of conflict. Elders spoke of their role akin that of the social workers with whom they interacted, in that they acted as a source of emotional support for their communities. Overall, this study clarifies steps to be taken to increase well-being in elder refugee populations and urges the response of humanitarian organisations to strengthen psychological support structures within refugee encampments.


Lebanon; Syria; elders; empathy; needs assessment; psychosocial; refugees

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