My name is Melissa Carlson, and I am a PhD candidate in the U.C. Berkeley Political Science Department. This summer I will be in Jordan examining how Syrian refugees living in urban areas perceive health care providers, and whether their perceptions influence their willingness to use services offered by particular providers. I plan to capture refugees' perspectives through a variety of different ways: first, through an in-person survey experiment and an experiment conducted through Facebook, both with Syrian refugees; and second, through in-depth interviews with both Syrian refugees and various health care providers in the country, ranging from public officials to private clinics, aid workers, and refugee doctors practicing informally in the country.
My project is motivated by puzzling behavior I have observed amongst refugee communities during my previous research on refugees and rights access in Greece, Jordan, and Iraq. Despite minimal access to financial support, Syrian refugees in urban areas and informal camps often use costly, private clinics even when host governments and aid organizations offer free or subsidized services. Similarly, refugees often turn to informal health care providers, such as doctors, pharmacists, and nurses who are refugees themselves, but practicing without a work permit. Lastly, Syrian refugees have crossed the border into Syria to access health care services there, then returned to Jordan, rather than access closer, and relatively safer, services in country. Many refugees forgo accessing health care services, even in emergencies, because they fear that interaction with public officials and aid workers may have negative repercussions.
I expect to find that refugees' level of trust in, and perceived credibility of, health care providers directly influences whether they use that provider's services. Through the experiments and in-depth interviews described above, I hope to identify factors that influence Syrian refugees' trust and perceived credibility of health care providers, and assess how refugee perceptions influence their behavior.
I am very excited to conduct this research, particularly because I believe that my findings can have direct, positive policy implications for aid organizations and governments responding to crises. I am extremely grateful to CGPH for making my research possible, as well as Dr. Nour Abdo and Amer Abu Shakra from the Jordanian University of Science and Technology, who will provide critical support on the ground.
I will be posting updates regularly, so stay tuned!