Common mental disorders among adult members of ‘left-behind’ international migrant worker families in Sri LankaReport as inadecuate

Common mental disorders among adult members of ‘left-behind’ international migrant worker families in Sri Lanka - Download this document for free, or read online. Document in PDF available to download.

BMC Public Health

, 15:299

Global health


BackgroundNearly one-in-ten Sri Lankans are employed abroad as International migrant workers IMW. Very little is known about the mental health of adult members in families left-behind. This study aimed to explore the impact of economic migration on mental health common mental disorders of left-behind families in Sri Lanka.

MethodsA cross-sectional survey using multistage sampling was conducted in six districts representing 62% of outbound IMW population of Sri Lanka. Spouses and non-spouse caregivers those providing substantial care for children from families of economic migrants were recruited. Adult mental health was measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire. Demographic, socio-economic, migration-specific and health utilization information were gathered.

ResultsA total of 410 IMW families were recruited response rate: 95.1%. Both spouse and a non-spouse caregiver were recruited for 55 families with a total of 277 spouses and 188 caregivers included. Poor general health, current diagnosed illness and healthcare visit frequency was higher in the non-spouse caregiver group. Overall prevalence of common mental disorder CMD; Depression, somatoform disorder, anxiety was 20.7% 95%CI 16.9-24.3 with 14.4% 95%CI 10.3-18.6 among spouses and 29.8% 95%CI 23.2-36.4 among non-spouse caregivers. Prevalence of depression 25.5%; 95%CI 19.2-31.8 and somatoform disorder 11.7% 95%CI 7.0-16.3 was higher in non-spouse caregiver group. When adjusted for age and gender, non-returning IMW in family, primary education and low in-bound remittance frequency was associated with CMD for spouses while no education, poor general health and increased healthcare visits was significantly associated in the non-spouse caregiver group.

ConclusionsTo our knowledge, this is one of the first studies to explore specific mental health outcomes among adult left-behind family members of IMW through standardized diagnostic instruments in Sri Lanka and in South Asian region. Negative impact of economic migration is highlighted by the considerably high prevalence of CMD among adults in left-behind families. A policy framework that enables health protection whilst promoting migration for development remains a key challenge for labour-sending nations.

KeywordsInternational migrant workers Economic migration, Migration health Mental health Left-behind families Health policy Labour sending country Developing world Sri Lanka  Download fulltext PDF

Author: Chesmal Siriwardhana - Kolitha Wickramage - Sisira Siribaddana - Puwalani Vidanapathirana - Buddhini Jayasekara - Sulochana 


Related documents