Systematic review of factors associated with quality of life of asylum seekers and refugees in high-income countries

Catharina F. van der Boor, Rebekah Amos, Sarah Nevitt, Christopher Dowrick, Ross G. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


The stressful experiences that many asylum seekers and refugees (AS&R) are exposed to during forced migration, and during resettlement in host countries, can have a profound impact on their mental health. Comparatively less research attention has been allocated to exploring other indices of quality of life (QoL) in AS&R populations. This review aimed to (i) synthesize the predictors and correlates of QoL of AS&R populations in high-income countries, and (ii) to identify the methodological strengths and weaknesses of this body of research. Fourteen databases were systematically searched (Medline, PsychINFO, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, Health Technology Assessment, National Health Service Economic Evaluation, Educational Resource Index and Abstracts, BiblioMap, Scopus, Social Sciences Citation Index, Evidence Aid, DARE, Web of Science and PubMed). Eligibility criteria included: adults seeking asylum or refuge in a high-income country, primary quantitative data, the use of a measure based on the WHO’s definition of QoL, published in a peer-reviewed journal. A narrative synthesis approach was used, and the quality was assessed using the AXIS tool for cross-sectional studies and the CASP tool for longitudinal studies. Of the 13.656 papers identified, 23 met the eligibility criteria. A wide range of factors were found to have significant associations with QoL. Both positive and negative correlates of QoL were largely dominated by social (e.g. social networks) and mental health factors (e.g. depression). Although all of the cross-sectional studies met over half of the quality criteria, only 12 met 75% or more of these criteria. For the longitudinal studies, for all but one study lacked statistical precision and the results cannot be applied to the local population. Key findings across the various forms of QoL (overall, physical, psychological, social and environmental) were that having established social networks and social integration were associated with higher QoL, whereas having mental disorders (i.e. PTSD or depression) was strongly associated with reduced QoL. More research is needed into physical and environmental predictors and correlates of QoL. The findings of the review can be used to inform policies and interventions aimed at supporting AS&R and promoting the integration and wellbeing of these populations
Original languageEnglish
Article number48
JournalConflict and Health
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Systematic review of factors associated with quality of life of asylum seekers and refugees in high-income countries'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this