Health and health care access for Syrian refugees living in İstanbul

Int J Public Health. 2018 Jun;63(5):601-608. doi: 10.1007/s00038-018-1096-4. Epub 2018 Apr 9.


Objectives: The study was conducted to assess the health needs of urban refugees living in İstanbul.

Methods: A mixed methods approach was adopted to interview Syrian women from households, doctors, decision makers and NGO representatives. The data were collected between June and October 2015.

Results: The main challenges were the cost of living in İstanbul, increased rent and language barrier. Almost half (49.6%) of the interviewed women did not know about free health care rights for Syrians. In the last 30 days preceding the interview, 58.6% of the participants sought health care primarily through state hospitals, primary health care centres and pharmacies. The participants had difficulty in accessing health care due to the language barrier and a lack of knowledge of the Turkish health care system. Waiting time at hospitals and negative attitudes of health care staff reduced satisfaction in these services.

Conclusions: In relation to life in Turkey, the main issues for Syrian refugees were not directly related to health. They have been given the right to access health care, although had many difficulties in understanding and accessing services in a crowded city.

Keywords: Health needs assessment; Refugee; Syrian; Turkey.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication Barriers
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Services Accessibility / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Needs Assessment
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration
  • Refugees*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Syria / ethnology
  • Turkey / epidemiology
  • Waiting Lists