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A Scoping Review and Conceptual Model of Social Participation and Mental Health among Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Department of Public Health Science, Karolinska Institutet, Solnavägen 1E, 104 31 Stockholm, Sweden
Center for Social Sustainability, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet, Alfred Nobels Allé 23, 141 52 Huddinge, Sweden
School of Historical and Contemporary Studies, Södertörn University, Alfred Nobels Allée 7, 141 89 Huddinge, Sweden
Department of Health Sciences, Swedish Red Cross University College, Hälsovägen 11, 141 57 Huddinge, Sweden
Division of Insurance medicine, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Berzelius Väg 3, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(20), 4027;
Received: 28 August 2019 / Revised: 15 October 2019 / Accepted: 16 October 2019 / Published: 21 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Global Health)
Social participation plays a key role in the integration of refugees and asylum seekers into their host societies, and is also closely tied to the mental health of those populations. The aim of this scoping review was to study how the concept of social participation is described in empirical research, and how it is associated with mental health outcomes. Methods: In total, 64 studies were identified through searches in PubMed, PsycInfo, and Sociological Abstracts. These studies describe various forms of social participation among refugees and asylum seekers, and 33 of them also addressed various forms of mental health outcomes. Results: The identified studies described forms and conditions of social participation—both in the host country and transnationally—that could be synthesized into three broad dimensions: (1) Regulatory frameworks, conditions and initiatives; (2) Established societal organizations and social structures; and (3) Community organized groups. Each of these consisted of several sub-domains. The identified dimensions of social participation were also associated with psychosocial well-being and decreased psychological distress. Conclusions: There is a need for policies to enable and support the participation of refugees and asylum seekers in various dimensions of social structures in host societies. Social participation enhances resilience, re-establishes social lives, and acts as a protective factor against poor mental health outcomes. View Full-Text
Keywords: social participation; dimension; mental health; refugees and asylum seekers social participation; dimension; mental health; refugees and asylum seekers
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Niemi, M.; Manhica, H.; Gunnarsson, D.; Ståhle, G.; Larsson, S.; Saboonchi, F. A Scoping Review and Conceptual Model of Social Participation and Mental Health among Refugees and Asylum Seekers. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 4027.

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