Psychological distress among Thai migrant workers in Israel
The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to examine the associations between migration stressors and psychological distress among Thai migrant agricultural workers in Israel, and to examine the direct and indirect contribution of socio-cultural variables to this relationship. Two hundred and twenty-one Thai male workers were interviewed using a structured questionnaire that included demographic variables and occupational exposures to organophosphate pesticides (as control variables), migration stressors, intervening variables (traditional health beliefs, social support, drinking behavior, and utilization of medical services), and a psychological distress scale. In multivariate analysis, migration stressors, the migrants' traditional health beliefs, quality of current social relationships, drinking behavior, as well as age and occupational exposure were significantly associated with psychological distress. Workers who reported higher migration stressors (perceived the migration to be difficult, and often felt homesick), those with higher levels of traditional health beliefs, those whose social relationships with other Thai co-workers were poor, those who consumed either no alcohol or large amounts of alcohol, and those who reported 'problem drinking' had significantly higher levels of psychological distress. A moderating effect of the quality of social relationships with co-workers on the association between homesickness and psychological distress was found. Additionally, migrants aged 28-34 and those who were experiencing eye irritation from chemicals at work had significantly increased levels of distress. The findings demonstrate the focal role of specific migration stressors and the current socio-cultural context on psychological distress of migrant workers.