Musculoskeletal impairment among Syrian refugees living in Sultanbeyli, Turkey: prevalence, cause, diagnosis and need for related services and assistive products

Dorothy Boggs, Oluwarantimi Atijosan-Ayodele, Hisem Yonso, Nathaniel Scherer, Timothy O’Fallon, Gülten Deniz, Selin Volkan, Ahmed Örücü, Isotta Pivato, Ammar Hasan Beck, İbrahim Akıncı, Hannah Kuper, Allen Foster, Andrea Patterson, Sarah Polack
April 20, 2021
Academic Research Publications

Epidemiological data on musculoskeletal impairment (MSI) and related service and assistive product (AP) needs for displaced populations are lacking. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence, aetiology, and specific MSI diagnosis and the need for related services and APs among Syrian refugees living in Sultanbeyli, a district in Istanbul, Turkey.

MSI is common among the Syrian refugee population living in Sultanbeyli District, particularly older adults, however less than half have been able to access relevant services and APs. These findings can inform the planning of health services for migrant populations, including the essential integration of rehabilitation and APs, and increase access to these vital services.

The all-age prevalence of MSI was 12.2% (95% CI 10.8–13.7) and this increased significantly with age to 43.8% in people 50 and older. Over half (51%) of MSI was classified as moderate, 30% as mild and 19% as severe. The war in Syria was identified as the direct cause for 8% of people with MSI. The majority (56%) of MSI diagnoses were acquired non-traumatic causes. There was high unmet need for rehabilitation services; for example, 83% of people with MSI could benefit from physiotherapy but were not receiving this service. Overall, 19% of people with MSI had an unmet need for at least one AP. Apart from availability of walking sticks/canes, coverage was low with less than half the people with MSI who needed APs and services had received them. The most common reasons for not seeking services and APs were ‘need not felt’, lack of service availability and of awareness of services, and financial barriers.