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The impact of forced migration on the mental health of the elderly: a scoping review

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 March 2016

Ashwini Virgincar
King's College London, Faculty of Life Science & Medicine, London, SE1 1UL, UK
Shannon Doherty
Global Public Health, Migration & Ethics Research Group, Faculty of Medical Science, Anglia Ruskin University, Bishop Hall Lane, Chelmsford CM1 1SQ, UK
Chesmal Siriwardhana*
Global Public Health, Migration & Ethics Research Group, Faculty of Medical Science, Anglia Ruskin University, Bishop Hall Lane, Chelmsford CM1 1SQ, UK Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London, 16 De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK
Correspondence should be addressed to: Chesmal Siriwardhana, Anglia Ruskin University, Bishop Hall Lane, Chelmsford CM1 1SQ, UK. Phone: +44 (0)1245 68 4199. Email:



The worldwide elderly population fraction is increasing, with the greatest rise in developing countries. Older adults affected by conflict and forced migration mainly taking place in developing countries may be particularly vulnerable to poor mental health due to other age-specific risk factors. This review aims to explore global evidence on the effect of conflict-induced forced migration on the mental health of older adults.


Seven bibliographic databases were searched. The title and abstract of 797 results were reviewed for qualitative and quantitative studies meeting inclusion and exclusion criteria.


Six studies were selected for the in-depth review. Five papers assessed mental health in older adult populations displaced as refugees. One paper assessed mental health of older adults with varying immigration status.


This review highlights the dearth of evidence about the impact of forced migration on the mental health of older adults. Further research is needed to explore the risk factors and processes that contribute to adverse mental health outcomes among older adult populations. This is essential to the development of interventions for this vulnerable and at-risk population, particularly in resource-poor settings.

Review Article
Copyright © International Psychogeriatric Association 2016 

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