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Background: Immigrants are exposed to numerous risk factors that may contribute to the development of chronic musculoskeletal pain. Recent political and environmental crises in North Africa and the Middle East have led to an increase in immigration to Europe that has challenged the healthcare system and especially the management of chronic conditions. Objective: The aims of this scoping review are to investigate the burden, prevalence, and associated factors of chronic musculoskeletal pain in immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East in Europe during the last decade. The intentions of the review are to inform healthcare policymakers, to identify gaps in the literature, and aid the planning of future research. Design: Online databases Medline, Embase, PubMed and Web of Science were used to identify epidemiological studies published from2012–2022 examining chronic pain in populations from North Africa and the Middle East with a migration background residing in Europe. Results: In total eleven studies were identified conducted in Norway (n = 3), Denmark (n = 3), Germany (n = 1), Austria (n = 1), Sweden (n = 1), and Switzerland (n = 1). Among the identified studies, eight studies were cross-sectional (n = 8), two were prospective cohort studies (n = 2) and one was a retrospective cohort study (n = 1). Data suggested that chronic pain is more prevalent, more widespread, and more severe in people with than without a migration background. Furthermore, immigrants who have resided in the destination country for a longer period experience a higher prevalence of chronic pain compared to those in the early phases of migration. The following factors were found to be associated with chronic pain in this population: female gender, lower education, financial hardship, being underweight or obese, time in transit during migration, experience of trauma, immigration status, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Conclusion: Several gaps in the literature were identified. Research is limited in terms of quantity and quality, does not reflect actual immigration trends, and does not account for immigration factors. Prospective cohort studies with long follow-ups would aid in improving prevention and management of chronic pain in populations with a migration background. In particular, they should reflect actual immigration trajectories, account for immigration factors, and have valid comparison groups in the countries of origin, transit and destination.

Original publication




Journal article


Bmc public health

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