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Original research
Qualitative accounts from Syrian mental health professionals: shared realities in the context of conflict and forced displacement
  1. Aseel Hamid,
  2. Katrina Scior,
  3. Amanda C de C Williams
  1. Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Aseel Hamid; aseel.hamid{at}


Objectives To explore the impact of the provision of care of forcibly displaced Syrian mental health professionals (MHPs) to Syrian clients in the community given shared experiences and backgrounds with clients.

Design A qualitative study using thematic analysis of in-depth semistructured interviews to explore shared realities, self-disclosure and the impact of providing therapy.

Setting Syrian MHPs operating in Gaziantep and Istanbul, Turkey, were interviewed.

Participants Sixteen forcibly displaced Syrian MHPs (eight male, eight female) aged between 24 and 54 years (M=35, SD=8.3) who provided care to the displaced Syrian community in Turkey.

Results All workers described having a shared reality with their clients as helpful in therapy and a smaller proportion described it as a vulnerability. All described their work with Syrian clients as fulfilling and most described it as distressing. Participants referred to self-care,supervision, peer-support and personal therapy as a means to cope.

Conclusions This study provides the first insight into the shared experiences of the ongoing trauma, loss and violations resulting from the ongoing Syrian conflict from the perspective of Syrian MHPs, adding to the literature of the professional issues and ethical duty to protect health workers in conflict settings.

  • quality in health care
  • medical education & training
  • mental health
  • qualitative research
  • adult psychiatry

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors AH, ACdCW and KS designed and conceptualised the study. AH coordinated and carried out the data collection. AH analysed and interpreted the data. AH led manuscript writing with contributions from ACdCW and KS. All authors reviewed the final manuscript.

  • Funding This research was supported by the UCL Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, funded by Camden & Islington NHS Foundation Trust. It was also supported by a UCL Grand Challenges grant.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval This study met the University College London Research Ethics Committee approved criteria (0163/001).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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