Mental health of migrant workers in China: prevalence and correlates

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2008 Jun;43(6):483-9. doi: 10.1007/s00127-008-0341-1. Epub 2008 Apr 8.


Background: This study aimed to examine the prevalence and the socio-demographic correlates of mental health of migrant workers in Shanghai China.

Methods: A total of 475 migrant workers from four major districts in Shanghai were recruited through a survey design with a multistage cluster [corrected] sampling. Male and female migrant workers were identified as mentally healthy or unhealthy using the brief symptom inventory. Socio-demographic characteristics and migration stress were explored as correlates of the mental health of the migrant workers.

Results: A total of 73 migrant workers could be classified as mentally unhealthy (25% for men and 6% for women). Male migrant workers who were married (OR 6.16, 95% CI 1.83-20.70), manual laborers (OR 1.56, 95% CI 0.97-2.51), and experienced more stress in "financial and employment-related difficulties" (OR 2.75, 95% CI 1.47-5.14) and "interpersonal tensions and conflicts" (OR 4.18, 95% CI 1.55-11.25) were more likely to be mentally unhealthy, whereas the female migrant workers who experienced more stress in "interpersonal tensions and conflicts" (OR 6.52, 95% CI 0.83-51.14) were more likely to have poor mental health.

Conclusion: The findings provide information for the prevention of mental illness among migrant workers in China. The implications and limitations are also discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • China / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Distribution
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Transients and Migrants / psychology*
  • Transients and Migrants / statistics & numerical data*