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Integrating Health Technologies in Health Services for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon: Qualitative Study

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Vera Araujo-SoaresORCiD, Dr Balsam Ahmad, Professor Patrick OlivierORCiD, Dr Madeline Balaam, Dr Kyle Montague, Dr Andy Garbett, Dr Hala Ghattas



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


©Reem Talhouk, Chaza Akik, Vera Araujo-Soares, Balsam Ahmad, Sandra Mesmar, Patrick Olivier, Madeline Balaam, Kyle Montague, Andrew Garbett, Hala Ghattas. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (, 06.07.2020.BACKGROUND: Lebanon currently hosts around one million Syrian refugees. There has been an increasing interest in integrating eHealth and mHealth technologies into the provision of primary health care to refugees and Lebanese citizens. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to gain a deeper understanding of the potential for technology integration in primary health care provision in the context of the protracted Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon. METHODS: A total of 17 face-to-face semistructured interviews were conducted with key informants (n=8) and health care providers (n=9) involved in the provision of health care to the Syrian refugee population in Lebanon. Interviews were audio recorded and directly translated and transcribed from Arabic to English. Thematic analysis was conducted. RESULTS: Study participants indicated that varying resources, primarily time and the availability of technologies at primary health care centers, were the main challenges for integrating technologies for the provision of health care services for refugees. This challenge is compounded by refugees being viewed by participants as a mobile population thus making primary health care centers less willing to invest in refugee health technologies. Lastly, participant views regarding the health and technology literacies of refugees varied and that was considered to be a challenge that needs to be addressed for the successful integration of refugee health technologies. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that in the context of integrating technology into the provision of health care for refugees in a low or middle income country such as Lebanon, some barriers for technology integration related to the availability of resources are similar to those found elsewhere. However, we identified participant views of refugees' health and technology literacies to be a challenge specific to the context of this refugee crisis. These challenges need to be addressed when considering refugee health technologies. This could be done by increasing the visibility of refugee capabilities and configuring refugee health technologies so that they may create spaces in which refugees are empowered within the health care system and can work toward debunking the views discovered in this study.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Talhouk R, Akik C, Araujo-Soares V, Ahmad B, Mesmar S, Olivier P, Balaam M, Montague K, Garbett A, Ghattas H

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Medical Internet Research

Year: 2020

Volume: 22

Issue: 7

Print publication date: 01/07/2020

Online publication date: 06/07/2020

Acceptance date: 12/03/2020

Date deposited: 06/08/2020

ISSN (print): 1439-4456

ISSN (electronic): 1438-8871

Publisher: JMIR Publications, Inc.


DOI: 10.2196/14283

PubMed id: 32628121


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Funder referenceFunder name
HG and CA receivedfunding from the International Development Research Centre, Canada (grant number 106981-001) to contribute to this research.
Newcastle University Research Investment Fund
United Kingdom Engineering and Physical Science Research Council award EP/L016176/1 (EPSRCCentre for Doctoral Training in Digital Civics)