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The Syrian refugee influx in Lebanon challenges non-communicable disease (NCD) management, requiring evidence to adapt intervention to quality care demands. Baseline data from a longitudinal cohort study examines general practitioner (GP) and specialist care-seeking by Syrian refugee and Lebanese patients with hypertension and/or diabetes at ten Lebanese primary health facilities.

The data reflected that health service utilisation was uniformly high in both populations. Refugees were more likely to seek GP care and had higher GP visit frequency; Lebanese relied more on specialists’ care. Multivariate analyses revealed notable associations between housing instability and reduced likelihood and volume of specialist care for both conditions. The YMCA medication programme enrollment was also associated with fewer GP visits for both conditions, although increased likelihood of specialist care for diabetes. Focus groups held with both patients and providers highlighted factors motivating care utilisation (primarily cost and obtaining medication), limited specialist availability, and GP self-doubt concerning effective treatment. The data indicated that expanded GP training and improving and scaling the YMCA programme could further efforts for improved NCD management quality and health outcomes.

 

Photo credit:  Timea Frauzt/IRC

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