Exploring the occupational lives of Syrians under temporary protection in Turkey

ALTUNTAŞ O., Azizoglu V., Davis J. A.

AUSTRALIAN OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY JOURNAL, 2021 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume:
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/1440-1630.12756
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded, Scopus, Academic Search Premier, ASSIA, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Psycinfo
  • Keywords: emigration and immigration, employment, occupational therapy, occupational performance, participation


Introduction Persons who become displaced due to situations such as war and natural disasters face extreme challenges in maintaining their occupational repertoires. This study aimed to explore the occupational lives of Syrians under temporary protection in Turkey. Methods This mixed method study used a cross-sectional design with a predominantly qualitative focus. Syrians living under temporary protection in Turkey were interviewed using the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM) to identify their perceived performance problems in the areas of self-care, productivity, and leisure. Additional probes were used to explore participants' reasoning for the choice of occupations and scoring, and occupational changes since arriving in Turkey. Socio-demographics were collected on the participants' age, gender, educational level, marital status, monthly house budget, social security, and number of persons within the household. Thematic analysis was used to undercover themes from the qualitative data. Results Thirty Syrians living under temporary protection in Turkey in Hatay province participated in this study (mean age: 29.66 +/- 7.97 years [range = 18 to 50 years]): 16 women (mean age: 28.64 +/- 8.04 years) and 14 men (mean age: 30.56 +/- 8.05 years). Participants identified more significant problems in their performance of productive and leisure occupations than in self-care occupations. The following themes emerged: (a) having a house of our own: meeting basic needs and completing activities of daily living; (b) no money for shopping: past everyday occupations now luxuries; (c) feeling valued and important: having the ability but no job; (d) living day to day: Education, career, and marriage on hold; and (e) enjoyment in life: leaving behind family, friends, and occupational spaces. Conclusion Syrians living in temporary protection in Turkey experience uncertainty within their occupational lives. Participants were able to meet their basic needs; however, precarity of employment limited their participation in previous occupations contracting their repertoires.