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Stress, health and quality of life of female migrant domestic workers in Singapore: a cross-sectional study.

Anjara, SG; Nellums, LB; Bonetto, C; Van Bortel, T (2017) Stress, health and quality of life of female migrant domestic workers in Singapore: a cross-sectional study. BMC Womens Health, 17 (1). p. 98. ISSN 1472-6874
SGUL Authors: Nellums, Laura Bruff

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BACKGROUND: There is a global increase in migrant workers. In Singapore, there are over 230,000 migrant domestic workers (MDWs). Female MDWs may experience high levels of stress and social isolation, which may negatively impact on their health and quality of life. There have also been documented cases of abuse and exploitation. However, there is a lack of empirical research with this population. This study aimed to investigate factors impacting on the health and quality of life of female MDWs in Singapore, including socio-demographic and job related characteristics, stress, social isolation, and working management style. METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was carried out with 182 female MDWs in Singapore. The survey examined health and quality of life (WHOQoL-Bréf), social connectedness (the Friendship Scale), and preferred and experienced working management style (the Theory X and Theory Y Questionnaire). Descriptive analyses were carried out in addition to ANOVA, t-tests, and chi-square tests, followed by a multivariate analysis using linear regression. RESULTS: Participants were found to have good overall quality of life and satisfaction with health. Age and working experience were found to be significantly (p < 0.05) associated with overall quality of life and three domains (psychological, social, and environmental health). Agreement between experienced and preferred working management style was also found to be associated with higher quality of life scores (with the exception of the social relationships domain). Though women reported relatively good overall quality of life, more than half of participants reported feeling stressed. In addition, nearly 20% of participants reported being isolated or very isolated. Stress was identified to be associated with isolation. In the multivariate analysis, stress was found to contribute to worse quality of life in all domains except social relationships, after adjusting for confounders. Social connectedness was positively associated with all domains of quality of life, and agreement of working management style was positively associated with physical health, psychological health and environmental quality of life. CONCLUSIONS: The findings serve as an evidence-base pointing to the need for policies aimed at decreasing stress and social isolation among female MDWs in order to improve their health and quality of life.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s). 2017 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Keywords: Adult, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Housekeeping, Humans, Male, Mental Health, Middle Aged, Quality of Life, Singapore, Transients and Migrants, Work Schedule Tolerance, Workload, Obstetrics & Reproductive Medicine, 1114 Paediatrics And Reproductive Medicine, 1117 Public Health And Health Services
SGUL Research Institute / Research Centre: Academic Structure > Infection and Immunity Research Institute (INII)
Journal or Publication Title: BMC Womens Health
ISSN: 1472-6874
Language: eng
10 October 2017Published
19 September 2017Accepted
Publisher License: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
PubMed ID: 29017558
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