Are refugees (really) a hard-to-survey group? Fieldwork experience with Syrian refugees in Germany

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Despite the increasing need for representative data on refugee health, refugees are underrepresented in health research in Germany and other European countries. Researchers often describe refugees as a hard-to-survey (or hard-to-reach) population. Labelling refugee populations with this phrase reflects the perspective of mainly local European researchers on a population they do not belong to. Moreover, refugees may not describe themselves with this phrase. Drawing upon my fieldwork experience as a member of the Syrian community in Germany who has conducted research with Syrian refugees, this practice paper challenges a common narrative among researchers in Europe in regard to refugee populations. I strongly recommend that researchers who are interested in conducting research with refugee populations involve them in all research design and implementation stages. I further call upon researchers to refrain from using the label ‘hard-to-survey’ to describe refugee populations before ensuring that they have done enough to engage with and involve their target population in their research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Refugee Studies
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)1405–1409
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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