AB040. Urbanisation, Relocation and Mental Health of Elderly Farmers and the Changes during the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic

Ying Chang, Guibo Sun, Houhua Zhu

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Rapid urbanisation has caused a considerable elderly population to relocate from rural countryside to urban neighbourhoods. This study examines the impact of built environment change on their health and the inequality aggravated by living density and built environment configuration. Methods: The primary data is from a longitudinal study on urbanisation and health of relocated farmers in Suzhou, China. The baseline survey was conducted from June to November in 2019 from two groups, relocated farmers (N=1,053) and the control group of farmers still living in the rural countryside (N=1,597). A Follow-up survey (N=367) was undertaken from Oct to December 2020, with interviews to understand the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on their health, perception, and lifestyle. Results: The results from the preliminary analysis showed that both depression and cognitive impairment rates were higher among rural farmers than relocated farmers and associated with the more inferior self-perceived overall health of rural farmers. Relocated farmers generally had an overall higher cognitive score, maybe because of the need for memory and information as essential abilities in city life. The pandemic saw an increase in the cognitive score of relocated farmers, likely because of intensive exposure to information from mass media. The follow-up survey did not find a significant increase in depression. Instead, interview findings showed the possible positive contribution of the pandemic to the perceived health of relocated farmers, because of the improved public health environment. Conclusions: This study found a mild impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health but more significant lifestyle changes, including reduced time on daily walking, social activities, and social network, associated with increased time spent indoors, within neighbourhood, time on TV and mobile phone. These behaviours may aggregate obesity and mental illness in the long-term and should be prioritised in post-pandemic public health intervention measures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)AB040-AB040
JournalJournal of Public Health and Emergency
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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