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Open Access Research article

Reproductive health and access to healthcare facilities: risk factors for depression and anxiety in women with an earthquake experience

Jasim Anwar1*, Elias Mpofu1, Lynda R Matthews1, Ahmed Farah Shadoul2 and Kaye E Brock1

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Health Sciences, the University of Sydney, East Street, Lidcombe, NSW, 1825, Australia

2 World Health Organization, Main Country Office, UNOCA Compound, Kabul, Afghanistan

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:523  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-523

Published: 30 June 2011

Abstract

Background

The reproductive and mental health of women contributes significantly to their overall well-being. Three of the eight Millennium Development Goals are directly related to reproductive and sexual health while mental disorders make up three of the ten leading causes of disease burden in low and middle-income countries. Among mental disorders, depression and anxiety are two of the most prevalent. In the context of slower progress in achieving Millennium Development Goals in developing countries and the ever-increasing man-made and natural disasters in these areas, it is important to understand the association between reproductive health and mental health among women with post-disaster experiences.

Methods

This was a cross-sectional study with a sample of 387 women of reproductive age (15-49 years) randomly selected from the October 2005 earthquake affected areas of Pakistan. Data on reproductive health was collected using the Centers for Disease Control reproductive health assessment toolkit. Depression and anxiety were measured using the Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25, while earthquake experiences were captured using the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire. The association of either depression or anxiety with socio-demographic variables, earthquake experiences, reproductive health and access to health facilities was estimated using multivariate logistic regression.

Results

Post-earthquake reproductive health events together with economic deprivation, lower family support and poorer access to health care facilities explained a significant proportion of differences in the experiencing of clinical levels of depression and anxiety. For instance, women losing resources for subsistence, separation from family and experiencing reproductive health events such as having a stillbirth, having had an abortion, having had abnormal vaginal discharge or having had genital ulcers, were at significant risk of depression and anxiety.

Conclusion

The relationship between women's post-earthquake mental health and reproductive health, socio-economic status, and health care access is complex and explained largely by the socio-cultural role of women. It is suggested that interventions that consider gender differences and that are culturally appropriate are likely to reduce the incidence.

Keywords:
Reproductive Health; Mental Health; Disaster; Depression; Anxiety; Earthquake; Access to Health Facilities; Pakistan