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

02 Mar 2018

Abstract 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.