JOURNAL ARTICLE

Internal migration, mental health, and suicidal behaviors in young rural Chinese

Jing Dai, Bao-Liang Zhong, Yu-Tao Xiang, Helen F K Chiu, Sandra S M Chan, Xin Yu, Eric D Caine
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 2015, 50 (4): 621-31
25403568

PURPOSE: There is a dearth of data on the association of internal migration with mental health in young rural Chinese. This study aims to explore the associations between migrant status, mental health, and suicidal behaviors in young rural Chinese.

METHODS: We recruited 1,646 rural subjects aged 16-34 years, of whom 756 were migrant workers and 890 non-migrants, from ten representative villages in rural Sichuan Province, the southwestern part of China. To assess subject's depressive symptoms and general psychological quality of life (psycho-QOL), the study protocol included the Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale, and psycho-QOL subscale of the World Health Organization's QOL Questionnaire-Brief Version, in addition to structured questions regarding one-year suicidal thoughts and behaviors (serious ideation, plan, and attempt), socio-demographic, social support, and physical health information.

RESULTS: After adjustment for confounders, migrant workers had relative to non-migrant rural residents a decreased risk for depression (OR = 0.69, P = 0.026), but comparable risk for poor psycho-QOL (OR = 0.91, P = 0.557) and one-year suicidal behaviors (OR = 0.59-1.10, P = 0.19-0.90). Migrant status only accounted for 0.5, 2.8, 4.7, 9.8, and 12.6% of the total explainable variance for suicide attempt, poor psycho-QOL, suicide plan, depression and serious suicide ideation, respectively.

CONCLUSION: Our findings suggested that among young rural Chinese there were no significant associations involving migrant status and poor psycho-QOL or one-year suicidal behaviors, while migrant status significantly correlated with a decreased risk of depression. The unique contribution of migrant status to mental health among young rural Chinese participants in this study was very small.

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