Prevalence and predictors of common mental disorders among Syrian refugees in Istanbul, Turkey: a cross-sectional study

Ceren Acarturk, Michael McGrath, Bayard Roberts, Zeynep Ilkkursun, Pim Cuijpers, Marit Sijbrandij, Egbert Sondorp, Peter Ventevogel, Martin McKee, Daniela C. Fuhr, on behalf of the STRENGTHS consortium

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The war in Syria has created the greatest refugee crisis in the twenty-first century. Turkey hosts the highest number of registered Syrian refugees, who are at increased risk of common mental disorders because of their exposure to war, violence and post-displacement stressors. The aim of this paper is to examine the prevalence and predictors of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms among Syrian refugees living in Turkey. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of adult Syrian refugees was conducted between February and May 2018 in Istanbul (Sultanbeyli district). Participants (N = 1678) were randomly selected through the registration system of the district municipality. The Hopkins Symptoms Checklist (HSCL-25) was used to measure anxiety and depression and the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Checklist (PCL-5) assessed posttraumatic stress. Descriptive and multivariate regression analyses were used. Results: The prevalence of symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD were 36.1%, 34.7% and 19.6%, respectively. Comorbidity was high. Regression analyses identified several socio-demographic, health and post-displacement variables that predicted common mental disorders including: being female, facing economic difficulties, previous trauma experience, and unmet need for social support, safety, law and justice. A lifetime history of mental health treatment and problems accessing adequate healthcare were associated with depression and anxiety but not with PTSD. Conclusions: Mental disorder symptoms are highly prevalent among Syrian refugees in Turkey. The association with post-displacement factors points to the importance of comprehensive health and social services that can address these social, economic and cultural stressors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-484
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Posttraumatic stress disorders
  • Syrian refugees

Cite this