Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Ashley K. Hagaman


Background: It is estimated that 10% of Thailand’s total labor force is estimated to be made up of migrant workers. While the exact number of migrant workers from nearby countries is unknown, border towns and provinces are acknowledged to utilize a large population of undocumented and documented migrant workers. A majority of undocumented and a nearly half of documented migrants were reported to be female. While previous research has explored the health needs of female migrant workers in specific industries, such as the sex work industry and manufacturing industry, few studies have examined the health needs and beliefs of female migrant workers across a variety of industries. Furthermore, there is a paucity of literature of the experiences of female Lao migrant workers who work in Thai border towns. Objectives: The objective of this study is to characterize the health beliefs and needs of female Lao migrant workers (FLMW) in Thailand. Methods: Relational context analysis was conducted from 12 focus groups and 14 in-depth individual interviews (n=26). Results and Discussion: The two primary topics, under which several key themes were identified, were beliefs and experiences of violence and sexual and reproductive knowledge. Violence served as a ritual of atonement to dispel bad karma and often primarily as a punishment occurred during arguments about financial responsibility. FLMW held negative perceptions and beliefs about menstruation but felt confident in their knowledge of contraceptives. Among current and former FLMW who worked as sex workers, women felt encouraged to engage in unsafe sex practices and not learn about sexual and reproductive health in order to be more competitive. Conclusion: These study findings underscore the importance of educational empowerment interventions to address the health needs of FLMW that can further connect them to relevant health and social services.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access

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