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Open Access Research article

A cross-sectional analysis of women’s mental health problems: examining the association with different types of violence among a sample of Brazilian mothers

Joviana Avanci1*, Simone Assis1 and Raquel Oliveira2

Author Affiliations

1 Latin-American Center of Studies of Violence and Health Jorge Careli (National School of Public Health)/Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Avenida Brasil 4036 sala 700, Manguinhos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2 Institute of Clinical Research Evandro Chagas/Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Avenida Brasil 4036, Manguinhos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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BMC Women's Health 2013, 13:20  doi:10.1186/1472-6874-13-20

Published: 15 April 2013

Abstract

Background

Mental health problems are the major cause of disability in poor countries, and women are the individuals most affected. The World Health Organization points out that violence against women is the leading cause of mental health problems. This study seeks to identify explanatory factors for women’s mental health problems, highlighting situations of violence suffered by them during childhood, when living with a partner and in the community.

Method

A cross-sectional analysis was conducted with 389 mothers with schoolchildren in a city in the state of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). Profile variables and childhood and adult life experiences were researched and organized in three analytical blocks. A binary logistic regression model was used, divided into hierarchical blocks.

Results

The final model shows that women who were the victims of severe physical violence by their partner were more likely (OR = 8.2) to suffer from mental health problems than those who had never been exposed to this type of violence. The mothers of children with behavior problems are more likely to have mental health problems (OR = 3.0) than mothers whose children do not manifest behavioral problems.

Conclusion

This study shows that women’s mental health problems are particularly related to the experience of physical violence, especially that occurring in intimate partner relationships. Based on this premise, this work recommends that multidimensional issues need to be included in women’s health assistance programs duly incorporating the specificity of victimization by violence.

Keywords:
Women; Violence; Mental health