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Health-related quality of life of refugees: a systematic review of studies using the WHOQOL-Bref instrument in general and clinical refugee populations in the community setting

  • Gagliardi, Juliette1, 2
  • Brettschneider, Christian1
  • König, Hans-Helmut1
  • 1 University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistrasse 52, Hamburg, 20246, Germany , Hamburg (Germany)
  • 2 University of Bologna, Via Zamboni 33, Bologna, 40126, Italy , Bologna (Italy)
Published Article
Conflict and Health
BioMed Central
Publication Date
Jun 02, 2021
DOI: 10.1186/s13031-021-00378-1
Springer Nature


PurposeTo systematically review studies on HRQOL, measured by the WHOQOL-Bref instrument, of refugees in general and clinical populations who are settled in the community of the hosting country, and outline the differences in scores among the two population groups and across the four domains of WHOQOL-Bref (physical, psychological, social relationships and environment domain) as well as factors impacting those outcomes.MethodsSeveral databases were systematically searched by using a broad search strategy. Additionally, a hand search for grey literature was performed. Studies had to comply with the following inclusion criteria: (a) population of refugees; (b) living in the community of the country of destination; (c) assessing HRQOL through the WHOQOL-Bref instrument.Results15 studies were identified and divided into two subgroups: (a) general population of refugees (b) clinical population of refugees, who were specifically selected for their mental status or because they had experienced relevant past traumas. Although we can outline common patterns among the two groups, in terms of domains scoring the highest and the lowest, heterogeneous values of HRQOL are observed across the studies included.ConclusionsIndividuals who were included in the clinical refugee group have a lower quality of life in respect to the general population of refugees. However, among the two groups different patterns can be outlined considering each domain of HRQOL: higher scores for the Physical and lower for the Environment domain when considering the general population of refugees and higher scores for the Environment and lower for the Psychological domain when referring to the clinical one. These lower scores are probably due to having a higher rate of mental distress and being more exposed to somatization, stigmatization and barriers to access the healthcare system of the hosting country.

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