Experiences of Iraqi doctors in Jordan during conflict and factors associated with migration


  • Shannon Doocy, PhD
  • Sana Malik, MPH
  • Gilbert Burnham, MD, PhD




Iraq, conflict, violence, doctors, migration, human capital


Objectives: To document the experiences of Iraqi doctors residing in Jordan before departure from Iraq and to assess factors associated with migration.
Methods: Respondent-driven sampling was used to obtain information from 401 Iraqi doctors arriving in Jordan after the invasion of 2003. Three seeds were used and chains were carried out to 10-11 waves of respondents; interviews were carried out either in person or by mobile phone.
Results: Migration of Iraqi doctors to Jordan peaked in 2006; 94 percent of doctors were from Baghdad and 25 percent had been internally displaced before migration to Jordan. Departure from Iraq was associated with a violent event in 61 percent (confidence interval [CI]: 56-65) of cases and 75 percent (CI: 70-79) of doctor households experienced a violent event before migration. Kidnappings or assassination attempts were reported by 17 percent (CI: 25-34) of doctors; male sex and older age were significantly associated with increased risk in multivariate models. Only 30 percent (CI: 25-34) of doctors reported they have plan to return to Iraq when the conflict is over and 6 percent (CI: 4-9) reported planning to return to Iraq within a year; the majority (52 percent, CI: 47-57) planned to settle in a third country.
Conclusions: Iraq has lost many of its doctors as a result of the conflict, and the majority of those displaced in Jordan have no plans to return. The human capital losses associated with the large-scale displacement of Iraqi doctors are substantial and have left a critical void in human capital that will likely impact the health system for decades.

Author Biographies

Shannon Doocy, PhD

Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.

Sana Malik, MPH

Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.

Gilbert Burnham, MD, PhD

Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.


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How to Cite

Doocy, PhD, S., S. Malik, MPH, and G. Burnham, MD, PhD. “Experiences of Iraqi Doctors in Jordan During Conflict and Factors Associated With Migration”. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, vol. 5, no. 1, Jan. 2010, pp. 41-47, doi:10.5055/ajdm.2010.0005.

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