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Health risk behaviors, musculoskeletal disorders and associated cultural adaptation, depression: a survey among Myanmar migrant workers in Chiangmai, Northern Thailand

Authors Aung TNN, Shirayama Y, Moolphate S, Aung MN, Lorga T, Yuasa M

Received 4 March 2019

Accepted for publication 10 July 2019

Published 14 August 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 283—292

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJGM.S207022

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser


Thin Nyein Nyein Aung,1 Yoshihisa Shirayama,2 Saiyud Moolphate,3 Myo Nyein Aung,4 Thaworn Lorga,5 Motoyuki Yuasa2

1Department of Public Health, Graduate School of Medicine, Juntendo University, Tokyo, Japan; 2Faculty of International Liberal Arts, Juntendo University, Tokyo, Japan; 3Department of Public Health, Faculty of Science and Technology, Chiang Mai Rajabhat University, Chiangmai, Thailand; 4Advanced Research Institute for Health Science, and Faculty of International Liberal Arts, Juntendo University, Tokyo, Japan; 5Department of Research and Community Engagement, Research Coordinating Unit, Boromrajonani College of Nursing, Nakhon Lampang, Thailand

Background and purpose: When migrants go to a new country to work, they experience transition of epidemiological risk factors, a new system of access to healthcare and changing life styles. Their comprehension of health risk factors will depend on acculturation pattern. Moreover, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are significantly prevalent in such a population due to the manual work in their jobs. Myanmar immigrant’s acculturation level has not yet been studied in relation to prevalent diseases. This study aimed to investigate health risk behaviors, the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders, and associated factors.
Methods: A cross-sectional study surveyed 414 Myanmar migrant workers in Chiangmai, Thailand. Face-to-face interviews administered structured questionnaires which comprised the transculturally validated East Asian Acculturation Measure scale, Standardized Nordic musculoskeletal questionnaires, Patient Health Questionnaires 2 and 9 for depression and questionnaires to screen health behaviors and jobs. Data analysis applied binary logistic regression.
Results: About 26.3% were current smokers and 40.8% current drinkers. Of the 75.8% of participants did not exercise, 40.1% were overweight and obese, 44.7% had prehypertension, 27.1% hypertension, and 13% had depression. The prevalence of MSDs at any site over the previous 12 months was 53.4% and it was significantly associated (P-value≤0.05) with female (adjusted odd ratio (aOR)=1.75; 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.04–2.94), depression (aOR=2.19;CI=1.10–4.39), marginalization pattern of acculturation (aOR=1.87;CI=1.09–3.21) and MSDs at any site last week (aOR=8.41;CI=4.09–17.30).
Conclusion: Health behaviors in this young, working migrant population are risky, and MSDs are common problems for migrant workers in northern Thailand. Findings of the current study highlighted health behaviors and cultural adaption as attributes to chronic, disabling, and common health problems of migrant workers. Public health interventions and recommendations considering this evidence may improve migrants’ health status, leading to better quality-of-life and productivity.

Keywords: acculturation, depression, health risk behaviors, musculoskeletal disorders, Myanmar migrant workers, Thailand

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