Transcultural Concepts in Nursing Care

Evidence-Based Practice 11-1

Through Her Eyes: The Impact of War on Syrian Refugee Families

This descriptive phenomenological study that explores the impact of the civil war and displace ment of Syrian families from a cultural perspective. The study highlights the experiences of Syrian war refugee families who have sought shelter in a host country. It was conducted with 16 Syrian women who were seeking care at a health center in Jordan. Three major themes emerged from the data. Theme 1: War as a Source of Final and Social Stress Men lost employment because they had fled their country. Losing employment meant women and children also lost their familiar lifestyles. Social stressors were being displaced in a new country, different culture, fear for safety, being isolated from family members, and significant financial stressors. Study participants reported the harmful effects of war on their husbands’ attitudes and behaviors, which led to an increase in family violence. Anxiety, nervousness, and becoming easily stressed led to abusive interactions with wives and children. Social media and television news programs reporting on the conditions in Syria influenced the men’s violent outbursts. The increase in family violence nega tively affected all members of the family. Theme 3: The Adverse Effects of the War on the Health and Well-being of Women and Children The higher cost of living in the host country, the husband’s unemployment, refugee status, and the disruption of traditional family roles resulted in hypertension and depression. Chronic illnesses were compounded by the lack of access to healthcare Theme 2: Family Violence Was a Consequence of War

and the high cost of medications. The education of Syrian children was disrupted and many of them were required to work and contribute to expenses of daily living. The children exhibited intensified emo tions, including sadness, depression, anxiety, and crying episodes. Syrian men used physical abuse toward their wives and children for minor infractions to reestablish their place as head of the family. This affected the patterns of family communication lead ing to more anxiety, depression, and family violence. Clinical Implications Nurses should be aware of the everyday struggles for justice and human dignity that refugees experience when war impacts their daily lives. Nurses can be culturally sensitive and refer refugees to social, men tal, and physical health/humanitarian care agencies that are equipped to meet their needs. Teaching cul turally congruent care in nursing programs through out host countries is essential to ensure that new graduates are aware of and can deal with the cultural issues they will face as providers. International aid agencies can provide their staff with training to deal with war-related stressors. Providing educational seminars, which include reviews on culture, health, and implicit bias training, are essential for health care providers to maintain cultural competency in the day-to-day of refugees. Research studies that explore the relationship of cultural beliefs and values to mental and physical health are important to help providers continue to understand how to best serve displaced refugees. These studies provide trans cultural nursing knowledge, allowing nurses to be grounded in individualized culturally specific care.

Reference: Al-Natour, A., Morris, E. J., & Al-Ostaz, S. M. (2022). Through her eyes: The impact of war on Syrian refu gee families. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 33 (1), 26–32.

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