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PLOS One Migration of adult children Thap eta al 2018.pdf (1.02 MB)
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Migration of adult children and mental health of older parents 'left behind': An integrative review

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 22:07 authored by Thapa, DK, Denis VisentinDenis Visentin, Rachel KornhaberRachel Kornhaber, Cleary, M

Background: Although a number of studies have examined the effect of the out-migration of children on the mental health of ‘left behind’ elderly parents, research on the consequences of children’s migration on the mental health and well-being of elderly parents left behind is inconclusive and a systematic review is warranted.

Objectives: To identify the association between the left behind or empty nest status and the mental health of older parents, and to identify common risk factors for poor mental health among those left behind.

Methods: Online databases CINAHL, PsycINFO, PubMed, Scopus and ProQuest were searched for research (2000-September 2017) that focused on the relationship between the migration of adult children and the mental health of the older parents (≥ 50 years) left behind. The JBI Checklist for Analytical Cross Sectional Studies was used to assess the methodological quality of the articles.

Results: 25 articles met the inclusion criteria. The studies identified that left behind older parents had higher levels of mental health problems compared to non-left behind. Left behind parents had higher depressive symptoms, higher levels of loneliness, lower life satisfaction, lower cognitive ability and poorer psychological health. A number of risk factors were identified for mental health disorders among the left behind parents, which included living arrangements, gender, education, income, physical health status, physical activity, family and social support, age, rural residence and frequency of children’s visit.


Publication title

PL o S One





Article number









School of Nursing


Public Library of Science

Place of publication

United States

Rights statement

Copyright 2018 The Authors Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Mental health

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