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      “To die is better for me”, social suffering among Syrian refugees at a noncommunicable disease clinic in Jordan: a qualitative study

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          The conflict in Syria has required humanitarian agencies to implement primary-level services for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Jordan, given the high NCD burden amongst Syrian refugees; and to integrate mental health and psychosocial support into NCD services given their comorbidity and treatment interactions. However, no studies have explored the mental health needs of Syrian NCD patients. This paper aims to examine the interaction between physical and mental health of patients with NCDs at a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) clinic in Irbid, Jordan, in the context of social suffering.


          This qualitative study involved sixteen semi-structured interviews with Syrian refugee and Jordanian patients and two focus groups with Syrian refugees attending MSF’s NCD services in Irbid, and eighteen semi-structured interviews with MSF clinical, managerial and administrative staff. These were conducted by research staff in August 2017 in Irbid, Amman and via Skype. Thematic analysis was used.


          Respondents describe immense suffering and clearly perceived the interconnectedness of their physical wellbeing, mental health and social circumstances, in keeping with Kleinman’s theory of social suffering. There was a ‘disconnect’ between staff and patients’ perceptions of the potential role of the NCD and mental health service in alleviating this suffering. Possible explanations identified included respondent’s low expectations of the ability of the service to impact on the root causes of their suffering, normalisation of distress, the prevailing biomedical view of mental ill-health among national clinicians and patients, and humanitarian actors’ own cultural standpoints.


          Syrian and Jordanian NCD patients recognise the psychological dimensions of their illness but may not utilize clinic-based humanitarian mental health and psychosocial support services. Humanitarian agencies must engage with NCD patients to elicit their needs and design culturally relevant services.

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          Most cited references 30

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          The RE-AIM framework: a systematic review of use over time.

          We provided a synthesis of use, summarized key issues in applying, and highlighted exemplary applications in the Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework. We articulated key RE-AIM criteria by reviewing the published literature from 1999 to 2010 in several databases to describe the application and reporting on various RE-AIM dimensions. After excluding nonempirical articles, case studies, and commentaries, 71 articles were identified. The most frequent publications were on physical activity, obesity, and disease management. Four articles reported solely on 1 dimension compared with 44 articles that reported on all 5 dimensions of the framework. RE-AIM was broadly applied, but several criteria were not reported consistently.
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            Patients with depression are less likely to follow recommendations to reduce cardiac risk during recovery from a myocardial infarction.

            Patients with depression are at greater risk of cardiac death in the first few months after a myocardial infarction (MI). This study was performed to determine whether depression affects adherence to recommendations intended to reduce the risk of cardiac events after an MI. All consenting patients admitted to a university-affiliated teaching hospital during an 18-month period were interviewed 3 to 5 days following an acute MI using the Beck Depression Inventory to assess symptoms of depression and using the Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Revised Third Edition, to determine the presence of major depression and/or dysthymia. Accessible survivors (n=204; 116 men and 88 women) were interviewed by telephone 4 months later using the Medical Outcomes Study Specific Adherence Scale to measure self-reported adherence to recommendations to modify cardiac risk. Patients who were found in the hospital to have symptoms of at least mild to moderate depression (Beck Depression Inventory score > or =10, n=35 [17.2%]) or to have major depression and/or dysthymia (n=31 [15.2%]) reported lower adherence to a low-fat diet, regular exercise, reducing stress, and increasing social support 4 months later. Those with major depression and/or dysthymia also reported taking medications as prescribed less often than those without major depression and/or dysthymia. Diabetic patients with major depression and/or dysthymia were less likely to follow a diet for patients with diabetes than diabetic patients without depression. Patients with depression following an acute MI are less likely to adhere to recommended behavior and lifestyle changes intended to reduce the risk of subsequent cardiac events. This finding could explain why depression in the hospital is related to long-term prognosis in patients recovering from an MI.
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              Idioms of distress: alternatives in the expression of psychosocial distress: a case study from South India.

               Mark Nichter (1981)
              This paper focuses attention on alternative modes of expressing distress and the need to analyze particular manifestations of distress in relation to personal and cultural meaning complexes as well as the availability and social implications of coexisting idioms of expression. To illustrate this point the case of South Kanarese Havik Brahmin women is presented. These women are described as having a weak social support network and limited opportunities to ventilate feelings and seek counsel outside the household. Alternative means of expressing psychosocial distress resorted to by Havik women are discussed in relation to associated Brahminic values, norms and stereotypes. Somatization is focused upon as an important idiom through which distress is communicated. Idioms of distress more peripheral to the personal or cultural behavioral repertoire of Havik women are considered as adaptive responses in circumstances where other modes of expression fail to communicate distress adequately or provide appropriate coping strategies. The importance of an 'idioms of distress' approach to psychiatric evaluation is noted.

                Author and article information

                Confl Health
                Confl Health
                Conflict and Health
                BioMed Central (London )
                1 September 2020
                1 September 2020
                : 14
                [1 ]GRID grid.8991.9, ISNI 0000 0004 0425 469X, Department of Public Health and Policy, , London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, ; LSHTM, 15-17 Tavistock Place, London, WC1H 9SH UK
                [2 ]Médecins sans Frontières, Amman, Jordan
                [3 ]GRID grid.452573.2, ISNI 0000 0004 0439 3876, Médecins sans Frontières, ; London, UK
                [4 ]GRID grid.415773.3, Primary Care Director, , Ministry of Health of Jordan, ; Amman, Jordan
                © The Author(s) 2020

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                Funded by: FundRef, Médecins Sans Frontières;
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