The Life Experiences of Refugees in Canada: A Comprehensive Scoping Review to Identify Unmet Needs and Barriers

  • Setareh GhahariEmail author
  • Josie Lui
  • Satmeen Nagra
  • Sara Morassaei


Although resettlement allows for refugees to live in a safer place, there are many issues that accompany this drastic life change. The purpose of this study was to comprehensively examine the literature on the life experiences of refugees in Canada to identify the challenges that they face and their unmet needs, as well as potential sources of support. Five databases were systematically searched for articles published in the last decade that included data on the life experience of refugees in Canada. Findings were analysed in depth to generate emergent themes and synthesize common findings across studies. The review found 26 articles on the life experiences of refugees, 23 of which were qualitative studies, as well as 1 quantitative and 2 mixed methods studies. The main challenges experienced by refugees included loss or change in identity, gender role conflicts, language barriers, lack of recognition of previous education or experience, and perceived lack of support and discrimination. This comprehensive review highlights the unmet needs and complex barriers that are experienced by refugees in Canada and directs attention to priorities for future research. Differences in language, culture, and social support lead to challenges in integration and accessing services among refugees in Canada, which may have potential policy implications.


Refugees Integration Well-being Post-migration stress 



We are grateful to Paola Durando, Queen’s University Health Sciences Librarian, for her help in developing the search strategy and obtaining relevant articles.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Setareh Ghahari
    • 1
    Email author
  • Josie Lui
    • 1
  • Satmeen Nagra
    • 1
  • Sara Morassaei
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Rehabilitation TherapyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Practice-based Research and InnovationSunnybrook Health Sciences CentreTorontoCanada

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