Health Care Needs and Use of Health Care Services Among Newly Arrived Syrian Refugees

Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ)

This research paper reports the results of a rapid assessment of health care needs and use of health care services among 400 Syrian refugees who arrived between November 2015 and November 2016 in Toronto.

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Of the 400, 209 (52.2%) were privately sponsored refugees, 177 (44.2%) were government-assisted refugees, and 12 (3.0%) were refugees under the Blended Visa Office-Referred Program. They reported high levels of self-perceived physical and mental health. Over 90% of the sample saw a doctor in their first year in Canada, and 79.8% had a family doctor they saw regularly. However, almost half (49.0%) of the respondents reported unmet health care needs, with the 3 most common reasons reported being long wait times, costs associated with services and lack of time to seek health care services.

Many factors may explain the respondents' high levels of self-perceived physical and mental health during the first year of resettlement, including initial resettlement support and eligibility for health care under the Interim Federal Health Program. However, newly arrived Syrian refugees report unmet health care needs, which necessitates more comprehensive care and management beyond the initial resettlement support.