The Saleem Study

A single-blind randomized wait-list controlled trial.

Learn more about the background, methods and design of the Saleem study.

Logo Saleem Study

Background

By the end of 2020, worldwide 82 million people were forcibly displaced. Out of which, 30 million people are international refugees: due to war, violence, conflict or persecution, they fled their country seeking for protection in another country.

Mental and physical strain

Refugees are exposed to severe mental and physical strain, as well as traumatic experiences during their journey. As a consequence, the risk of psychiatric disorders is markedly increased among international refugees. 

Early interventions are key

Studys and NGOs highlight the fact that there is a need for early interventions on psychological health among refugees. In addition to clinical offerings, especially non-clinical interventions should be focused in order to promote health and invidiual resources – as soon as possible.

Exercise and sport

Previous studys suggest that exercise and sport have promise in the treatment of PTSD symptoms, depression and anxiety disorders.

Furthermore, such interventions may also have positive effects on mental health among refugees.

Recent studies

Up to date, most studies were carried out in the countries of asylum, whereas investigations implemented in a refugee camp setting are missing.

However, 86% of all refugees live in refugee camps.

Pilot study shows promising results

Our pilot study suggests, that an exercise and sport intervention in a refugee camp is feasible and that there are potential benefits for refugees’ mental health and cardiorespiratory fitness.

However, these promising findings must be interpreted with caution, given that our pilot study followed a pre-experimental design. 

Study Design

The Saleem study has 136 participants and lasts for three years. It entails an exercise and sport intervention and a total of three data measurement times.

 

Aims of the study

  1. Examine the effects of a sport and exercise intervention among refugees living in a refugee camp on PTSD.
  2. Examine the effects of the intervention on further oucomes (e.g. perceived stress, anxiety, sleep, quality of life etc.).
  3. Develop a standardized exercise and sport program that can be disseminated to other camps.

 

Intervention

Participants are randomly assigned to either the intervention group or the wait-list control group.

While the intervention group right-away participates in the exercise and sport intervention, the wait-list control group only takes up activities after the second data measurement.

The intervention consists of at least 2 times per week exercise and sport activities (60min / session) and lasts for three months.

More Details

What exactly does the exercise and sport intervention entail?
Activities offered are based upon the needs and preferences of the participants. Individual interviews and focus group discussions inform the selection of activites. In any case, a range of activities is offered on five days per week, out of which participants may chose based on individual preference.

What is a wait-list control group?
Given the potential positive effects of the intervention, the control group (usally the ‘non-treatment group’) is not just left out of the intervention – rather it’s being put on a waititing list to receive the intervention with a timely delay. Hence the name: wait-list control group.

Participants

All study participants (n=136) are currently living in the same greek refugee camp and are aged 16 – 59 years. Participation is voluntary and informed consent is obtained prior to the study.

Data assessments

Data will be collected prior to the intervention (baseline), immediately after the intervention (post 1), and another 3 months after that (post 2).

More Details

What data is collected among participants?
Socio-demographic background
PTSD symptoms
Perceived stress
Depressive symptoms
Anxiety
Sleep complaints
Health-related quality of life
Pain
Cardiorespiratory fitness
Upper-body muscular strength
Physical activity
Cognitive function
Cardiovascular risk markers.

Trial registry

For a more detailled description, see our trial registration on ISRCTN:

More about the Saleem study

News

Follow-up on our most recent news. The study is currently ongoing.

Research

Our most recent peer-reviewed publications.

About us

The Saleem study team

Contact Us