The mental health status of Chinese rural–urban migrant workers
- 2.2k Downloads
There are currently around 120 million rural–urban migrants in China. Elsewhere migration has been associated with increased vulnerability to mental health problems. This study was conducted to explore the mental health status and help seeking behaviours of migrant workers in Hangzhou city, Zhejiang Province, and to compare them with permanent urban and rural dwellers.
A self-completion questionnaire including items relating to sociodemographics, health and lifestyles and mental health, was completed by 4453 migrant workers and 1957 urban workers in Hangzhou city, and by 1909 rural residents in Western Zhejiang Province.
The mean age of the migrants was 27 years, (male 29 years, female 25 years). They worked long hours (28% >12 h per day, 81% 6 or 7 days per week) and their living conditions were very basic. On the SF-36 mental health scale migrants had lower scores (52.4) than rural residents (60.4, P < 0.0001) but scored higher than urban residents (47.2, P = 0.003). The difference between urbanites and migrants disappeared after adjustment for confounders (P = 0.06). Independent predictors of better mental health status among migrants were being unmarried, migrating with a partner, higher salary, good self-reported health and good relationships with co-workers. There were small significant differences in suicide ideation and attempts between the three groups with suicide ideation commonest in migrants and suicide attempts most common in the rural population. Fewer than 1% across all three groups had received any professional help for depression or anxiety.
Rural–urban migrant workers in this part of China are not especially vulnerable to poor mental health. This may result from a sense of well being associated with upward economic mobility and improved opportunities, and the relatively high social capital in migrant communities.
Key wordsmental health migrant workers suicide China
The study was funded through a Wellcome Trust project grant No 069355
- 2.Cai F, Wang D (2003) Migration as marketisation: what can we learn from China’s 2000 census data? The China Rev 3(2):73–93Google Scholar
- 3.Chan KW, Zhang L (1998) The hukou system and rural-urban migration in China: processes and changes. Centre for Studies in Demography and Ecology Working Paper, University of WashingtonGoogle Scholar
- 4.Conner KR, Phillips MR, Meldrum SC (2007) Predictors of low-intent and high-intent suicide attempts in rural China. Am J Public Health 97(5):1–5Google Scholar
- 10.Guan XP, Jiang MY (2002) Basic life and health services for migrants in cities. In Peilin L (ed) Peasant workers: economic and social analysis of peasant workers in the city. Social Sciences Documentation Publishing House, BeijingGoogle Scholar
- 16.Lam C, Tse E, Gandek B, Fong D (2005) The SF-36 summary scales were valid, reliable and equivalent in a Chinese population. J Clin Epidemiol 58:815–822; 21Google Scholar
- 18.National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBSC) (2002) Statistics of the Fifth National Census in 2000. Available at http://www.china.org.cn Accessed September 1, 2006
- 21.Saywell T (2000) Hit the high road. Far East Econ Rev May, 35–39Google Scholar
- 23.Shen YC (1996) Mental health challenges in China in the twenty-first century. Chinese J Psychiatry 29:5–6Google Scholar
- 26.Ware JE, Snow KK, Kosinski M (1993) SF-36 health survey: manual and interpretation guide. The Health Institute, New England Medical Centre, Boston MassachusettsGoogle Scholar
- 27.Wu JL, Bao YQ (1999) Beijing migrants reproductive health. Chinese MCH J 14(4):234–236Google Scholar
- 29.Yang TZ, Liu XL (2003) Public health issues on psychological stress and preventive countermeasures. Chinese J Prev Med 37:207–209Google Scholar
- 30.Ye XJ, She WX, Li L (2004) Health status of migrant workers in cities and policy suggestions. Chin J Hosp Admin 20:562–566Google Scholar
- 31.Ye LM, Wang JJ, Mei LY (2004) Health maintenance and countermeasures for rural migrant workers. J Pub Health Prev Med 15:75–76Google Scholar
- 32.Zhejiang Provincial Statistics Bureau (2005) Zhejiang statistical year book 2004. Zhejiang People’s Publisher, HangzhouGoogle Scholar