Experiences of Iraqi doctors in Jordan during conflict and factors associated with migration

Am J Disaster Med. Jan-Feb 2010;5(1):41-7. doi: 10.5055/ajdm.2010.0005.


Objectives: To document the experiences of Iraqi doctors residing in Jordan before departure from Iraq and to assess factors associated with migration.

Methods: Respondent-driven sampling was used to obtain information from 401 Iraqi doctors arriving in Jordan after the invasion of 2003. Three seeds were used and chains were carried out to 10-11 waves of respondents; interviews were carried out either in person or by mobile phone.

Results: Migration of Iraqi doctors to Jordan peaked in 2006; 94 percent of doctors were from Baghdad and 25 percent had been internally displaced before migration to Jordan. Departure from Iraq was associated with a violent event in 61 percent (confidence interval [CI]: 56-65) of cases and 75 percent (CI: 70-79) of doctor households experienced a violent event before migration. Kidnappings or assassination attempts were reported by 17 percent (CI: 25-34) of doctors; male sex and older age were significantly associated with increased risk in multivariate models. Only 30 percent (CI: 25-34) of doctors reported they have plan to return to Iraq when the conflict is over and 6 percent (CI: 4-9) reported planning to return to Iraq within a year; the majority (52 percent, CI: 47-57) planned to settle in a third country.

Conclusions: Iraq has lost many of its doctors as a result of the conflict, and the majority of those displaced in Jordan have no plans to return. The human capital losses associated with the large-scale displacement of Iraqi doctors are substantial and have left a critical void in human capital that will likely impact the health system for decades.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Emigration and Immigration / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iraq
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011*
  • Jordan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Refugees / statistics & numerical data*
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult