I don't leave my people; They need me: Qualitative research of local health care professionals' working motivations in Syria

Agneta Kallström, Orwa al-Abdulla, Jan Parkki, Mikko Häkkinen , Hannu Juusola, Jussi Kauhanen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Background The Syrian conflict has endured for a decade, causing one of the most significant humanitarian crises since World War II. The conflict has inflicted massive damage to civil infrastructure, and not even the health care sector has been spared. On the contrary, health care has been targeted, and as a result, many health professionals have left the country. Despite the life-threatening condition, many health professionals continued to work inside Syria even in the middle of the acute crisis. This qualitative study aims to determine the factors that have motivated Syrian health professionals to work in a conflict-affected country. Methods The research is based on 20 semi-structured interviews of Syrian health care workers. Interviews were conducted in 2016-2017 in Gaziantep, Turkey. A thematic inductive content analysis examined the motivational factors Syrian health care workers expressed for their work in the conflict area. Results Motivating factors for health care workers were intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic reasons included humanitarian principles and medical ethics. Also, different ideological reasons, patriotic, political and religious, were mentioned. Economic and professional reasons were named as extrinsic reasons for continuing work in the war-torn country. Conclusions The study adds information on the effects of the Syrian crisis on health care-from healthcare workers' perspective. It provides a unique insight on motivations why health care workers are continuing their work in Syria. This research underlines that the health care system would collapse totally without local professionals and leave the population without adequate health care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1 (2022)
JournalConflict and health
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • Conflict
  • Experience
  • Health worker
  • Motivation
  • Qualitative
  • Syria
  • Violence
  • 316 Nursing

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