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Experiences of armed conflicts and forced migration among women from countries in the Middle East, Balkans, and Africa: a systematic review of qualitative studies
The Red Cross Treatment Center for Persons Affected By War and Torture, Malmö, Sweden.
The Red Cross Treatment Center for Persons Affected By War and Torture, Malmö, Sweden.
Sophiahemmet University, Sweden; Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3589-318X
Swedish Red Cross University, Department of Health Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0459-1496
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2022 (English)In: Conflict and Health, E-ISSN 1752-1505, Vol. 16, no 1, article id 46Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: A significant proportion of the global population is displaced, many being women. Qualitative studies can generate in-depth findings that will contribute to an understanding of their experiences, but there is a need for further synthetization efforts. The aim was to provide a comprehensive perspective about adult women's experiences of armed conflicts and forced migration, focusing on women in or from countries in the Middle East, Balkans, or Africa.

Methods: Systematic review of English reports presenting empirical qualitative studies published in scientific journals 1980 or later, utilizing searches performed in September 2021 within three databases combined with manual screening. Of the 3 800 records screened in total, 26 were included. Methodological details and quality were appraised using pre-specified extraction and appraisal tools. The findings within the included reports were analyzed with thematic analysis.

Results: Most reports utilized interviews, including in total 494 participants, and were appraised as having insignificant methodological limitations. The first theme concerns changed living conditions, involving reduced safety, insufficient access to resources meeting basic needs, forced migration as a last resort, and some positive effects. The second theme concerns the experienced health-related consequences, involving psychological distress, risks during pregnancy and childbirth, exposure to violence and discrimination as a woman, as well as a lack of adequate healthcare services and social support. The third theme concerns the resources and strategies that enhance resilience, involving social support and family life, as well as utilization of internal resources and strategies.

Conclusion: When experiencing armed conflicts and forced migration, women face significant challenges related to changed living conditions and are exposed to health-related consequences. Consistently, women are targets of severe structural and personal violence, while lacking access to even the most basic healthcare services. Despite facing considerable hardships, these women display extraordinary resilience and endurance by finding strength through social support and internal resources. Synthesized qualitative research illustrates that women value social support, including peer support, which is a promising intervention that needs to be evaluated in future experimental studies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
BioMed Central (BMC), 2022. Vol. 16, no 1, article id 46
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Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:rkh:diva-4380DOI: 10.1186/s13031-022-00481-xPubMedID: 36071504OAI: oai:DiVA.org:rkh-4380DiVA, id: diva2:1699347
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Swedish Red CrossRegion SkåneAvailable from: 2022-09-27 Created: 2022-09-27 Last updated: 2024-03-14Bibliographically approved

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Mazaheri, MonirOkenwa-Emegwa, LeahCarlsson, Tommy

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