Background Although the adverse impacts of conflict-driven displacement on health are well-documented, less is known about how health status and associated risk factors differ according to displacement experience. This study quantifies health status and quality of life among returning refugees, internally displaced persons, and the host community in a post-conflict district in Northern Sri Lanka, and explores associated risk factors.
Methods We analyzed data collected through a household survey (n = 570) in Vavuniya district, Sri Lanka. The effect of displacement status and other risk factors on perceived quality of life as estimated from the 36-item Short Form Questionnaire, mental health status from 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire, and self-reported chronic disease status were examined using univariable analyses and multivariable regressions.
Results We found strong evidence that perceived quality of life was significantly lower for internally displaced persons than for the host community and returning refugees, after adjusting for covariates. Both mental health status and chronic disease status did not vary remarkably among the groups, suggesting that other risk factors might be more important determinants of these outcomes.
Conclusions Our study provides important insights into the overall health and well-being of the different displaced sub-populations in a post-conflict setting. Findings reinforce existing evidence on the relationship between displacement and health but also highlight gaps in research on the long-term health effects of prolonged displacement. Understanding the heterogeneity of conflict-affected populations has important implications for effective and equitable humanitarian service delivery in a post-conflict setting.
IOM Contributor: Kolitha Wickramage (Manila)