School for Advanced International Studies
China - Population health research on migrant communities living in the Pearl River Delta region of China
The Pearl River Delta Region is experiencing a growing influx of migrants. These communities are at risk for multiple psychosocial, infectious disease, and physical health concerns due to highly stressful working conditions and lack of health protections. Among the most vulnerable labor migrants are domestic workers from Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
The health and mental health of migrant communities is a significant public health concern because subsets of migrants are at an increased risk of mental health and physical health problems. There are a number of important risks to health that have been documented in migrant communities. These include vulnerabilities to mental health problems based on country of origin concerns (e.g., past history of violence), and current stressors and challenges in adaptation to the post-migration context (e.g., discrimination, remittance strain, social isolation, abuse by employers, poor living conditions).
This research program has the following aims: 1) to establish a longitudinal cohort of labor migrants for the purpose of establishing the population prevalence and incidence of critical physical (obesity), sexual (HIV/Syphilis), and mental health (PTSD, depression, addictions), issues among migrant worker communities in South China using respondent driven sampling (RDS) methods, 2) to identify key drivers of poor population health utilizing a socioecological framework, including personal health behaviors and social determinants of health, and, 3) to focus particular attention on social networks and social capital as a critical levels of analysis to understand population health. In conjunction with this RDS study, the study team is undergoing intervention development and adaptation for migrant health. The aim of this work is to disseminate evidence based low intensity interventions to reduce the burden of poor mental and physical health, in collaboration with the World Health Organization.