The health literature in Syria and on Syrian refugees before and after armed conflict: a scoping review




Poster session 1


Tuesday 22 October 2019 - 12:30 to 14:00

All authors in correct order:

Abdul-Khalek R1, Kayyal W1, Akkawi AR2, El-Harakeh A1, Rahme D3, Kashlan D1, Ghaddar F1, Arif K1, Bou Karroum L3, Elzalabany M1, Almalla M1, Mobayed N1, Saifi O2, Fadlallah R4, Kassas S1, Jabbour S1, Khater T1, El-Jardali F4, Akl E5, Jawad M6
1 Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
2 Faculty of Medicine, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
3 University Libraries, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon
4 Center for Systematic Reviews on Health Policy and Systems Research, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
5 Clinical Research Institute, American University of Beirut Medical Center, Lebanon
6 Public Health Policy Evaluation Unit, Imperial College London, UK
Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author:

Amena El-Harakeh

Contact person:

Abstract text
Background: academic publications about health help generate evidence for guidelines, policies, and knowledge in general, but their frequency and focus may be affected by factors such as armed conflict. The Syrian war displaced massive numbers of refugees worldwide, and spurred research interest about Syria.

Objectives: the objective of this scoping review was to analyze the possible impact of the Syrian war on features of the health literature about Syria.

Methods: we searched Embase, Global Health Library, MEDLINE, PsychINFO, PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science for articles published after 1990. We used combinations of MeSH terms and keywords and did not apply language restrictions. We screened titles and abstracts, followed by full-text articles, in duplicate, using predefined inclusion criteria: article is about Syria or Syrians; related to health or health systems; involving human subjects. We collected data independently using a standardized form and covering publication characteristics, Syrian institutions, funding, public health or health system area, and target population of analysis. We analyzed data using STATA 15.1 statistical software, and applied analytical descriptive comparisons and trend analysis.

Results: we identified 21,919 publications; we included 1597 publications, 1003 (62.8%) of which were research papers. Trends showed a consistent increase in the number of publications over time, this was linear before 2011 and became exponential after 2011. Country of affiliation of first authors was mostly Syria (33.38%), followed by the USA (11.23%), Turkey (7.40%), the UK (6.40%), and Lebanon (5.58%). In terms of Institutions, Damascus University was the most common institution of affiliation of first (35.25%) and last authors (34.14%). Funding sources were minimally reported in only 18.4% of the publications. The proportion of publications with at least one Syrian author decreased significantly after 2011, where publications were mostly by non-Syrian authors. Yearly percentages show emerging literature in the areas of mental health, conflict and health and human rights, which were absent before the year 2011. Publications about communicable diseases, mental health and injuries increased significantly after the start of the conflict.

Conclusions: armed conflict can affect the type and frequency of health-related publications. It is important for research during armed conflict to reflect the health needs of patients and those mostly affected by conflict or displacement.

Poster file: