The scarcity of evidence-based research on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among Syrian refugees has hampered efforts to address the high burden of these diseases in host countries. The objective of this study is to examine published research on NCDs among Syrian refugees in order to inform future research, practice, programs, and policy. .
Using the scoping review framework proposed by Arksey et al., 17 different databases were searched to identify studies reporting on NCDs among Syrian refugees. The number of relevant documents found was 34, with the earliest going back to 2013—2 years after the beginning of the Syrian conflict.
The majority of these documents were descriptive in nature and only two studies addressed the effectiveness of interventions in the management of NCDs. No studies investigated the prevention of these diseases. Furthermore, only 7 studies addressed the host community and only one research article, conducted in Lebanon, included subjects from the host community. The increasing number of documents over the past 5 years illustrates a growing interest in studying NCDs among Syrian refugees. Examination of the papers showed high prevalence of NCDs among Syrian refugees as well as unmet healthcare needs.
The findings of this review highlighted the dire need for further research on the burden of NCDs among Syrian refugees. Future studies should diversify research design to include interventions, address the host community in addition to the refugees, tackle prevention as well as treatment of NCDs, and explore strategies to enhance the resilience of the host country’s health system while ensuring quality of care for NCDs. The increasing momentum for research found in this review presents an opportunity to fill current knowledge gaps, which could result in preventing, controlling and ultimately reducing the burden of NCDs among Syrian refugees and their host communities.