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The influence of social stigma and discriminatory experience on psychological distress and quality of life among rural-to-urban migrants in China

By Bo Wang, Xiaoming Li, Bonita Stanton and Xiaoyi Fang

Abstract

The global literature has revealed a potential negative impact of social stigma on both physical and mental health among stigmatized individuals; however, the mechanisms through which social stigma affects the individual's quality of life and mental health are not well understood. This research simultaneously examines the relationships of several determinants and mediating factors of psychological distress and quality of life. Data were collected through a cross-sectional survey among 1006 adult (predominantly male) rural-to-urban migrants in 2004-2005 in Beijing, China. Participants reported on their perceived social stigma, discriminatory experiences in daily life, preparation for migration, discrepancy between expectation and reality, coping with stigma-related stress, psychological distress, and quality of life. Structural equation modeling was performed. We found that perceived social stigma and discriminatory experiences had direct negative effects on psychological distress and quality of life among rural-to-urban migrants. Expectation-reality discrepancy mediated the effects of perceived social stigma and discriminatory experiences on psychological distress and quality of life; coping mediated the effect of social stigma on quality of life. Psychological distress was associated with quality of life. Preparation prior to migration was positively related to coping skills, which were positively related to quality of life. We conclude that perceived social stigma and daily discriminatory experiences have a significant influence on psychological distress and quality of life among rural-to-urban migrants. Pre-migration training with a focus on establishment of effective coping skills and preparation of migration may be helpful to improve their quality of life and mental health.China Rural-to-urban migrants Stigma Discrimination Coping skill Psychological distress Quality of life

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