Refugees in Conflict: Creating a Bridge Between Traditional and Conventional Health Belief Models

BEN-ARYE E., Bonucci M., DAHER M., Kebudi R. , SAAD B., BREITKREUZ T., ...More

ONCOLOGIST, vol.23, no.6, pp.693-696, 2018 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 23 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.1634/theoncologist.2017-0490
  • Title of Journal : ONCOLOGIST
  • Page Numbers: pp.693-696


The recent wave of migration from Middle Eastern countries to Europe presents significant challenges to the European health profession. These include the inevitable communication gap created by differences in health care beliefs between European oncologists, health care practitioners, and refugee patients. This article presents the conclusions of a workshop attended by a group of clinicians and researchers affiliated with the Middle East Cancer Consortium, as well as four European-based health-related organizations. Workshop participants included leading clinicians and medical educators from the field of integrative medicine and supportive cancer care from Italy, Germany, Turkey, Israel, Palestine, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Sudan. The workshop illustrated the need for creating a dialogue between European health care professionals and the refugee population in order to overcome the communication barriers to create healing process. The affinity for complementary and traditional medicine (CTM) among many refugee populations was also addressed, directing participants to the mediating role that integrative medicine serves between CTM and conventional medicine health belief models. This is especially relevant to the use of herbal medicine among oncology patients, for whom an open and nonjudgmental (yet evidence-based) dialogue is of utmost importance. The workshop concluded with a recommendation for the creation of a comprehensive health care model, to include bio-psycho-social and cultural-spiritual elements, addressing both acute and chronic medical conditions. These models need to be codesigned by European and Middle Eastern clinicians and researchers, internalizing a culturally sensitive approach and ethical commitment to the refugee population, as well as indigenous groups originating from Middle Eastern and north African countries.