Syrian Refugee Research Projects

The federal government of Canada, in recognition of the humanitarian crisis in Syria, committed to accepting large numbers of Syrian refugees starting in November 2015. In light of this, and the system commitment that would be needed the Toronto Central LHIN asked a group of researchers to conduct a study to begin to understand the impact, the health care needs and system barriers that newly arrived refugees experienced.

The department of Health Equity at CAMH partnered with other researchers and community organizations on this research and is currently working on two follow-up studies funded by SSHRC and CIHR. These are collaborative projects with researchers from York University, the Wellesley Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital and community partners including COSTI Immigrant Services, the Arab Community Centre of Toronto and Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture (CCVT) undertook this research.

Refugees have unique health needs that are different from the general Canadian population. Before and during the migration journey, many refugees experience hardships and traumatic life events including conflict-related violence, family loss, injuries and poor nutrition that put them at risk for physical and mental health problems. In the short-term, security, less hazardous living conditions, and access to health services result in improvements in resettled refugees’ health. However, research with other immigrant groups in Canada shows that in the long term, health and well-being are affected by newcomers' sense of inclusion, respect and belonging in their new country. Thus, early improvements in refugee health may be followed by deterioration if social integration is not successful.

This body of research is attempting to explore the unique needs and issues faced by newly arrived Syrian refugees. There have been few opportunities to engage with, and evaluate the response of local health and social services to the needs of arriving refugees on this scale. This research explores the long-term health, unmet health care needs, and social integration pathways for refugees and the impact of these pathways on physical and mental health. One of the overall goals of this work is to generate information that can be used to improve the settlement and health outcomes.



Research funders

Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (2015-2016)
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (2016-2017)
Canadian Insititute of Health Research (2016-2021)

Related Resources

Syria.Ith CIHR Research Project

Related Publications

Oda et al., 2017. Health needs and service use of newly arrive Syrian refugees in Toronto: A cross-sectional study. CMAJ Open.