Asylum seekers, violence and health: a systematic review of research in high-income host countries

Added August 3, 2017

Citation: Kalt A., Hossain M., Kiss L., et al. Asylum seekers, violence and health: A systematic review of research in high income host countries. American Journal of Public Health 2013;103(3):e30-42.

Freely available: No

The twenty-three reviewed studies suggest that asylum seekers have a high exposure to many forms of violence and their health consequences, particularly torture and associated health correlates. However, the review’s findings were limited due to the heterogeneity of the included studies and their study populations.

As asylum seekers are often persecuted in their country of origin, many have experienced violence in their history of conflict. The authors aimed to quantitatively describe violence exposure among adults seeking asylum in high-income host countries. The studied variables included any quantitative data on physical violence, torture, sexual violence, suicide, and self-harm, as well as their respective health correlates. Findings on sexual violence and self-harm were limited, as most studies present gender-aggregated data. The review’s conclusions regarding torture were the most substantial as at least 30% of the participant populations in each study had experienced torture. Torture history also correlated with hunger and post-traumatic stress disorder in small, non-representative samples. However, the included studies were highly heterogenous in both study population and correlates examined. As such, the authors caution that further research is necessary to confirm any conclusions.


Disclaimer: This summary has been written by staff and volunteers of Evidence Aid in order to make the content of the original document accessible to decision makers who are searching for the available evidence on the health of refugees and asylum seekers but may not have the time, initially, to read the original report in full. This summary is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians, other health workers, professional associations, guideline developers, or national governments and international agencies. If readers of this summary think that the evidence that is presented within it is relevant to their decision-making they should refer to the content and details of the original article, and the advice and guidelines offered by other sources of expertise, before making decisions. Evidence Aid cannot be held responsible for any decisions made about the health of refugees and asylum seekers on the basis of this summary alone.