Health care providers in Canada are expected to take care of people from a variety of cultural backgrounds, and it is difficult for health care providers to deeply understand the lived experiences of some individuals to provide them with culturally sensitive care. Syrian refugees comprise one such group of newcomers to Canada. This phenomenological study aimed to uncover the meaning of the lived experiences of Syrian refugees using Giorgi’s (2009) method. Seven participants’ descriptions were viewed through the lens of the social determinants of health model. Seven essences of the general structural description or the meaning Syrian refugees gave to their experiences of living in Canada were synthesized. Syrian refugees live paradoxical experiences that are both rewarding and less rewarding when viewed through the lens of the social determinants of health (social support, environment, culture, education, health services, employment, and income). These experiences have influenced their health in both positive and negative ways. This study highlights the need for more culturally sensitive health care interventions and assistance for Syrian refugees/newcomers in Canada. As a next step, an action research study involving Syrian refugees as co-researchers may help address the social determinant of health risks in this population.


immigrants, phenomenology, refugees, social determinants of health, Syrian newcomers

Author Bio(s)

Khaldoun M. Aldiabat, R.N., M.S.N., Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing, University of Sultan Qaboos University, 123 Alkhoud- Muscat- Sultanate of Oman. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: k.aldiabat@squ.edu.om.

Enam Alsrayheen, Ph.D. (Chem.), MAHSR. Independent Researcher.

Catherine Aquino-Russell, R.N., Ph.D. is a Full Professor in the Faculty of Nursing, University of New Brunswick (Moncton Site), 55 Lutz Street, Moncton, NB, E1C 0L2, Canada.

Michael Clinton, R.N., Ph.D. is a Full Professor in the Rafic Hariri School of Nursing, American University of Beirut-Lebanon.

Roger Russell, M.B.A, Ph.D., is Dean, Professional Programs for Organizational Management and Education, Crandall University, Moncton, NB, Canada.

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