COVID-19 and Refugee Families in Montreal: Strategies for Reaching Hard-to-reach Populations in Health Emergencies
Research Team: Nicole Ives1, Jill Hanley1, Marjorie Rabiau1, Paula Kline2, Janet Cleveland1, Hend Alqawasma1, Arwa Nofal2, Oula Hajjar1, Lina Abdullah, and Jilefack Amin Ngami1
Affiliations: McGill University1 and Montréal City Mission2
Research Partner: Montréal City Mission
Keywords: Syrian refugees, integration, health emergencies, public health information, public health messaging, social isolation, COVID-19, phone surveys, Québec
Jump to: Full Infographic, Methodology, Findings
Overview: This study built on the Québec segment of a CIHR-funded 4-year longitudinal study, Syrian Refugee Integration and Long-Term Health (SyRIA.lth), which explores the impact of pre- and post-migration conditions, sociodemographic characteristics, and migration pathways on integration trajectories and long-term health and mental health outcomes for Syrian refugees. This study examined the challenges Syrian newcomers in Montréal faced during COVID-19, their coping strategies, and the public health information they accessed.
Objective: To identify the needs, vulnerabilities, and strengths of Syrian newcomers during the COVID-19 pandemic and to understand the resources Syrian newcomers mobilized in the face of the health crisis, including access to information through public health messaging.
Research Justification: The temporary suspension of data collection for SyRIA.lth due to COVID-19 presented an opportunity to engage participants from the study to gain an understanding of how factors such as proficiency in English/French, education, social networking, composition and structure of the family, employment status, housing circumstance, and income related to wellbeing during a public health crisis.
The research team conducted phone surveys in Arabic with 228 Syrian newcomers who were part of the SyRIA.lth study in Quebec. The survey questions covered issues such as sources and quality of information about COVID-19, household income and health status, challenges to adhering to social distancing guidelines, challenges related to education, coping strategies, and access to health services. The research team linked participants’ responses to their existing household information in the SyRIA.lth database, including housing conditions, highest education level, language fluency, and income.
The sample represented a range of settlement conditions that provided greater or lesser access to more formal information sources (e.g., through settlement agencies) and informal networks (other newcomers, sponsorship groups). All participants had arrived in Canada between 2015 and 2017.
All participants received links to government-sponsored COVID information in Arabic.
Concerns during COVID-19
Access to Information
Changes to Lifestyle
Publications & Reports
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