Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


Sociology and Social Policy

First Advisor

Prof. LAU Ka Wai Maggie

Second Advisor

Prof. AMOAH Padmore Adusei


Young informal workers in Nigeria face a significant decline in their health-related quality of life (HRQoL) due to their lack of control over their employment conditions. This problem is particularly pronounced among young informal workers in the construction industry, given its precarious and hazardous nature. To enhance HRQoL, these workers primarily rely on their social networks for support. However, given the level of hazards they encounter in the construction industry, social networks alone may not be sufficient to directly improve their HRQoL. Nevertheless, social networks can facilitate access to healthcare, which in turn may enhance HRQoL. Unfortunately, limited research has explored the relationship between social networks, access to healthcare, and HRQoL among young informal construction workers. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate whether and how access to healthcare can mediate the relationship between social networks and HRQoL among young informal construction workers in Nigeria, based on the social networks and health model by Berkman and Glass.

This study adopted a mixed methods approach, including a cross-sectional survey of 686 young informal construction workers aged 18 to 35, to examine the mediating role of healthcare access between social networks and HRQoL. Additionally, the study aimed to explore the age and gender dimensions of HRQoL among young informal construction workers. The HRQoL of the participants was measured using the short-form 12-item HRQoL scale version 2 (SF- 12v2). Furthermore, 32 in-depth interviews were conducted to gain a deeper understanding of these relationships. The sample was drawn from two local government areas, namely Abuja municipal area council (AMAC) and Bwari area council, in the federal capital territory (FCT) of Nigeria.

The study identified three domains of healthcare access (i.e., affordability, acceptability, and availability) that mediated the relationship between social networks and HRQoL. These findings were novel in terms of highlighting the distinctive role of demand-side and supply-side dimensions of healthcare access. Specifically, demand-side factors such as healthcare affordability and acceptability explained the association between social networks and mental health, while healthcare availability mediated the relationship between social networks and physical health. These findings were supported and further elucidated by the qualitative investigations.

Regarding the relationship between social networks and HRQoL, social networks exhibited a positive impact on mental health but no significant effect on physical health. Although the physical and mental HRQoL scores were slightly above average, a substantial portion of the sample (25%) scored below average, indicating poor physical and mental HRQoL. The qualitative study substantiated this finding by demonstrating how job demands and organizational factors influenced the poor HRQoL experienced by many young informal construction workers. Additionally, the qualitative study revealed gender inequalities in HRQoL among young informal construction workers in Nigeria. For instance, more females than males reported concerns related to anxiety and sadness, while more males than females reported physical health-related concerns due to varying gender roles at construction sites.

This study emphasizes the role of healthcare access as a mediator in the relationship between social networks and health-related quality of life. It contributes to the discourse on public health and social policy by arguing that while policies are consistently recommended to enhance the health of young individuals, healthcare policies targeting the informal sector should be adequately resourced and strengthened to serve as a critical tool for improving the health of this vulnerable group of young Nigerians. Furthermore, the promotion of social networks is crucial in addressing the health-related challenges faced by young informal workers.



Recommended Citation

Oladosu, A. O. (2023). Social networks, access to healthcare, and the health-related quality of life of young informal workers in Nigeria’s construction industry (Doctoral thesis, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from

Available for download on Wednesday, January 01, 2025