A One-Year Prospective Follow-Up Study on the Health Profile of Hikikomori Living in Hong Kong
School of Nursing, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Department of Social Work, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies, National University of Singapore, Singapore 119077, Singapore
Withdrawal Youth Service, Hong Kong Christian Service, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Nethersole School of Nursing, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(4), 546; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16040546
Received: 2 January 2019 / Revised: 10 February 2019 / Accepted: 12 February 2019 / Published: 14 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Health Behavior, Chronic Disease and Health Promotion)
Background: A prospective cohort study was conducted to follow-up on 104 participants on their changes of social, psychological and physical health as exposed to the hikikomori lifestyle. Methods: Participants were interviewed at baseline, 6 months and 12 months by administering a set of questionnaires and anthropometric measurements. Results: All three health domains of hikikomori were significantly improved over the follow-up period as evidenced by: (1) increased social network scores from 2.79 ± 1.80 to 3.09 ± 1.87, (2) decreased perceived stress scores from 21.18 ± 5.87 to 20.11 ± 5.79, and (3) reduced blood pressure levels from 118/75 to 115/71 and waist-to-hip ratios. Almost half of the participants have recovered from hikikomori by returning to the workforce in society; however, the health improvements were dominant in those that remained as hikikomori and were associated with the gradual swapping of exercise practices from light to moderate level strength. Conclusions: With intended exposure to social worker engagement, physical assessments of the cohort study triggered the social workers to encourage participants to do more exercises, which in turn enhanced their awareness of health modification towards a better health. Engagement of social workers could be considered as part of the intended exposure for all participants, which suggested social work intervention was effective in helping hikikomori recovery.