Comparing the self-reported health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of artisanal and small-scale gold miners and the urban population in Zimbabwe using the EuroQol (EQ-5D-3L+C) questionnaire: a cross-sectional study

Jana Becker, Stephan Bose-O'Reilly, Dennis Shoko, Josephine Singo, Nadine Steckling-Muschack
Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2020 July 29, 18 (1): 253

BACKGROUND: The role of artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) as a source of income is rapidly gaining importance in the economically difficult times in Zimbabwe. Besides limited epidemiological data, no data about the self-reported health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of artisanal and small-scale gold miners exist. The aim of the project was to access HRQoL of ASGM workers to improve the data base and compare the data to the urban Zimbabwean population.

METHODS: Data from 83 artisanal and small-scale gold miners in Kadoma, Zimbabwe was analysed. The HRQoL was assessed using the EuroQol dimensions (mobility, self-care, usual activities, pain/discomfort, anxiety/depression) accompanied by the cognition add-on questionnaire (EQ-5D-3L+C) and associated visual analogue scale (VAS). We described the EQ-5D dimensions and VAS values and computed health utility (HU) values using the Zimbabwean tariff. The proportions of miners reporting no problem in each EQ-5D dimension were compared with corresponding proportions reporting any problem (moderate or severe), and mean HU and VAS values were analysed across subgroups of the sample. To test differences between subgroups, Fisher's exact test was used and between urban and mining population, Student's t-test was used.

RESULTS: The reported health states of miners were homogenous, with a large amount (42%) reporting 'full health'. Mean (SD) VAS and HU values were 81.0 (17.5) and 0.896 (0.13), respectively. Subgroup analysis showed that miners with a lower education reported significantly more problems in the dimension of daily activities and miners with mercury contact had more problems in the dimensions of pain/discomfort and cognition. Comparison between mining and urban population showed that in the oldest age group, self-rated VAS values of miners were significantly higher than of their urban counterparts.

CONCLUSIONS: There were no significant differences in the HRQoL of mining and urban populations. However, the reason might be adverse health effects faced by the urban population that do not apply to rural mining areas. A higher education level of miners can improve the HRQoL, which is especially impaired by problems in the cognition dimension.

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