Background: Mass-migration observed in Peru from the 1970s occurred because of the need to escape from politically motivated violence and work related reasons. The majority of the migrant population, mostly Andean peasants from the mountainous areas, tends to settle in clusters in certain parts of the capital and their rural environment could not be more different than the urban one. Because the key driver for migration was not the usual economic and work-related reasons, the selection effects whereby migrants differ from non-migrants are likely to be less prominent in Peru. Thus the Peruvian context offers a unique opportunity to test the effects of migration.
Methods/design: The PERU MIGRANT (PEru's Rural to Urban MIGRANTs) study was designed to investigate the magnitude of differences between rural-to-urban migrant and non-migrant groups in specific CVD risk factors. For this, three groups were selected: Rural, people who have always have lived in a rural environment; Rural-urban, people who migrated from rural to urban areas; and, Urban, people who have always lived in a urban environment.
Discussion: Overall response rate at enrolment was 73.2% and overall response rate at completion of the study was 61.6%. A rejection form was obtained in 282/323 people who refused to take part in the study (87.3%). Refusals did not differ by sex in rural and migrant groups, but 70% of refusals in the urban group were males. In terms of age, most refusals were observed in the oldest age-group (>60 years old) in all study groups. The final total sample size achieved was 98.9% of the target sample size (989/1000). Of these, 52.8% (522/989) were females. Final size of the rural, migrant and urban study groups were 201, 589 and 199 urban people, respectively. Migrant's average age at first migration and years lived in an urban environment were 14.4 years (IQR 10-17) and 32 years (IQR 25-39), respectively. This paper describes the PERU MIGRANT study design together with a critical analysis of the potential for bias and confounding in migrant studies, and strategies for reducing these problems. A discussion of the potential advantages provided by the case of migration in Peru to the field of migration and health is also presented.