Association of pre-migration socioeconomic status and post-migration mental health in Syrian refugees in Lebanon: a descriptive sex-stratified cross-sectional analysis

Saskia Lange*, Toivo Glatz, Andreas Halgreen Eiset

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Refugee populations present with high levels of psychological distress, which may vary among sociodemographic characteristics. Understanding the distribution across these characteristics is crucial to subsequently provide more tailored support to the most affected according to their specific healthcare needs. This study therefore seeks to investigate the association between pre-migration socioeconomic status (SES) and post-migration mental health separately for male and female Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

METHODS: In a cross-sectional study, a cluster randomized sample of 599 refugees from Syria were recruited between 2016 and 2019 within 12 months after they fled to Lebanon. Logistic regression was used to determine the association between self-reported pre-migration SES and levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms assessed on the Hopkins Symptoms Checklist-25 (HSCL-25) scale, both for the entire sample and stratified by sex. To assess the informative value of self-reported SES, its correlation with education variables was tested. All analyses were conducted in R version 4.3.

RESULTS: Using complete cases, 457 participants (322 female, 135 male) were included in the analyses. Females showed on average more symptoms of anxiety (Median: 2.5) and depression (Median: 2.4) than males (Median: 2.10 and 2.07, respectively). Below average SES was associated with significantly higher odds for mental illness compared to average SES (anxiety: OR 4.28, 95% CI [2.16, 9.49]; depression: OR 1.85, 95% CI [1.06, 3.36]). For anxiety, differences between SES strata were larger for males than females. The self-reported SES measure showed only a weak positive correlation with education.

CONCLUSIONS: This study adds additional descriptive data highlighting mental health differences in Syrian refugees in Lebanon, whereby below average SES is associated with worse mental health outcomes compared to average SES. These findings demand further research into the underlying mechanisms. Improving our understanding of the observed differences will provide valuable insights that can contribute to the future development of targeted measures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
JournalGlobal Health Research and Policy
Volume9
Issue1
Number of pages9
ISSN2397-0642
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

Keywords

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • gender
  • mental health
  • migration
  • refugees
  • SES
  • sex
  • social determinants

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