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Epidemiology of substance use and mental health disorders among forced migrants displaced from the MENAT region: A systematic review and meta-analysis protocol

Background: Understanding the epidemiology of substance use disorders (SUDs) and mental health disorders (MHDs) among forced migrants from the Middle East and North Africa and Türkiye (MENAT) region is of utmost importance given their distinct challenges and vulnerabilities. Existing research on the topic is substantial; however, comprehensive systematic reviews are limited. We aim to conduct a systematic literature review to bridge this gap, providing a thorough understanding of SUDs and MHDs epidemiology among this population.

Methods: The systematic review will include original, peer-reviewed research articles published in English or Arabic between 2013 and 2023. It will encompass qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods studies focusing on SUDs and/or MHDs among forced migrants from the MENAT region. A Medline (via Ovid) search strategy was developed and will be translated into databases of EMBASE (via Ovid), Web of Science Core Collection (as licensed at Yale), and CINAHL. Risk of Bias in the included studies will be assessed using the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) checklist for observational studies and the Cochrane Risk of Bias (ROB) 2 tool for intervention studies. Meta-analysis using random-effects models will be conducted and subgroup analyses based on studies’ data will be performed. The systematic review will be conducted based on the framework introduced by the Joanna Briggs Institute. Additionally, the PRISMA-P extension for systematic reviews was used to report the present protocol. The present systematic review protocol has been registered with PROSPERO, an international prospective register of systematic reviews. The review’s registration ID is CRD42021286882.

Discussion: The systematic review aims to explore, identify and synthesize the evidence to reveal the epidemiology of SU and/or MH of forced migrants of the MENAT region as described in this protocol. In sum, the review will provide evidence to fill the gap in the literature and help the stakeholders, policymakers, and health providers to expand current knowledge of the prevalence and risk factors of SU and/or MH in humanitarian settings.


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