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The British Journal of Psychiatry
Year: 2010  |  Volume: 197  |  Issue: 6  |  Page No.: 468 - 475

Sociocultural practices in Ethiopia: association with onset and persistence of postnatal common mental disorders

C Hanlon, G Medhin, A Alem, M Araya, A Abdulahi, M Tomlinson, M Hughes, V Patel, M Dewey and M. Prince    

Abstract:

Background

Traditional perinatal practices may protect against postnatal common mental disorders (CMD) in non-Western societies.

Aims

To evaluate the association between perinatal practices and postnatal CMD in rural Ethiopia.

Method

A population-based sample of 1065 women was followed up from pregnancy until 2 months postpartum. Qualitative investigation informed the development of scales measuring attitudes towards and adherence to perinatal practices. Postnatal CMD was measured using the Self-Reporting Questionnaire.

Results

Endorsement of sociocultural perinatal practices was associated with lower odds of antenatal CMD persisting into the postnatal period (adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 0.66, 95% CI 0.45–0.95). Women who endorsed protective and celebratory perinatal practices but were unable to complete them had increased odds of incident (adjusted OR = 7.26, 95% CI 1.38–38.04) and persistent postnatal CMD (adjusted OR = 2.16, 95% CI 1.11–4.23) respectively.

Conclusions

There is evidence for an independent role of sociocultural practices in maintaining perinatal mental health in this Ethiopian community.

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