Long-term civil conflict, migration, and the mental health of adults left behind in Thailand: a longitudinal study

  • Kathleen FordEmail author
  • Aree Jampaklay
  • Aphichat Chamratrithirong
Original article



A long-term civil conflict has been occurring in the southernmost provinces of Thailand, and migration to Malaysia has been accelerated by this conflict. The objective of this work was to examine the influence of perceived effects of the unrest, migration of a household member, and children left behind on the reporting of psychiatric symptoms of working age adults.


A first round of data collection was conducted in 2014 including interviews with a probability sample of 1102 households and individual interviews with 2058 males and females aged 18–59. In 2016, a second round of data collection was conducted. A fixed effects model was used in the analysis.


The perceived effect of the unrest on the household was associated with an increased reporting of psychiatric symptoms. Furthermore, the migration of a household member for work and the presence of children left behind were related to an increased reporting of psychiatric symptoms among adults, especially among females.


The unrest and its associated migration was related to an increased reporting of psychiatric symptoms among working age adults in the study population.


Migration Mental health Conflict Thailand 



The study was funded by Mahidol University, Bangkok; Thailand Research Fund (Grant No. 2455); and Thai Studies Program University of Michigan (Grant No. 534). The Thai Studies grant was made possible by the Amnvay-Samonsri Vivavan Endowment at the University of Michigan.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

The study protocol was reviewed and approved by a Human Subjects Committee of Mahidol University. The authors assert that all procedures contributing to this work have been performed in accordance with the ethical standards set down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.

Informed consent

All persons provided written informed consent prior to their inclusion in the study.

Supplementary material

38_2019_1297_MOESM1_ESM.docx (28 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 27 kb)


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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen Ford
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Aree Jampaklay
    • 1
  • Aphichat Chamratrithirong
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Population and Social ResearchMahidol UniversitySalayaThailand
  2. 2.School of Public HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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