BMJ open 2017 05 177(5) e014799 doi 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-014799
The Migration and Health in Malawi (MHM) study focuses on a key challenge in migration research: although it has long been established that migration and health are closely linked, identifying the effect of migration on various health outcomes is complicated by methodological challenges. The MHM study uses a longitudinal panel premigration and postmigration study design (with a non-migrant comparison group) to measure and/or control for important characteristics that affect both migration and health outcomes.
Data are available for two waves. The MHM interviewed 398 of 715 migrants in 2007 (55.7%) and 722 of 1013 in 2013 (71.3%); as well as 604 of 751 (80.4%) for a non-migrant reference group in 2013. The total interviewed sample size for the MHM in both waves is 1809. These data include extensive information on lifetime migration, socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, sexual behaviours, marriage, household/family structure, social networks and social capital, HIV/AIDS biomarkers and other dimensions of health.
FINDINGS TO DATE
Our result for the relationship between migration and health differs by health measure and analytic approach. Migrants in Malawi have a significantly higher HIV prevalence than non-migrants, which is primarily due to the selection of HIV-positive individuals into migration. We find evidence for health selection; physically healthier men and women are more likely to move, partly because migration selects younger individuals. However, we do not find differences in physical or mental health between migrants and non-migrants after moving.
We are preparing a third round of data collection for these (and any new) migrants, which will take place in 2018. This cohort will be used to examine the effect of migration on various health measures and behaviours, including general mental and physical health, smoking and alcohol use, access to and use of health services and use of antiretroviral therapy.