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Research Papers

Health status and quality of life of female garment workers in Sri Lanka

Authors:

PV De Silva ,

University of Ruhuna;, LK
About PV
Faculty of Medicine, Department of Community Medicine
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S Lombardo,

Duke University, US
About S
Duke Global Health Institute
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H Lipscomb,

Duke University Medical Center, US
About H
Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
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J Grad,

Duke University, US
About J
Department of Community and Family Medicine and Duke Global Health Institute
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T Østbye

Duke University, US
About T
Department of Community and Family Medicine and Duke Global Health Institute
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Abstract

Objectives: The garment industry has gradually become the major foreign exchange earner in Sri Lanka. The objective of this study is to provide an overview of health problems and quality of life among female garment workers in Sri Lanka.

Methods: A random sample of female garment workers in the Free Trade Zone in Koggala, Sri Lanka was recruited. Information on medical symptoms and health related quality of life (WHO QOL) was collected through interviews conducted by medically qualified research assistants using a structured questionnaire.

Results: A total of 1058 female workers participated in the study. Mean age was 27.8 years, Musculoskeletal problems were reported by 15.5%, the most prevalent complaint being lower back problems. Over 5% (n = 59) reported a workplace injury in the last year; most of these (68.3%) were puncture injuries.Very few (n = 5; 0.5%) reported having been subjected to emotional abuse, and none reported any sexual or physical abuse at work during the last 12 months. Most (n = 576; 54.4%) rated their overall quality of life as very good or good, and 63.8% (n = 676) were satisfied with their health. Scores relating to psychological complaints were lower (worse)  than those for physical complaints.

Conclusion: Relative to studies of other occupational groups in middle income countries, these female garment workers reported overall good health; their most notable problem was musculoskeletal symptoms. The findings could represent adequate control of work-related risks, but a healthy worker effect and social desirability bias must also be considered as explanations for the positive health status of these relatively young workers.

Galle Medical Journal, Vol 18: No. 1, March 2013:Page 1-7

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4038/gmj.v18i1.5510

DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/gmj.v18i1.5510
How to Cite: De Silva, P. et al., (2013). Health status and quality of life of female garment workers in Sri Lanka. Galle Medical Journal. 18(1), pp.1–7. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/gmj.v18i1.5510
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Published on 08 May 2013.
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