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

Charlotte Hanlon, Girmay Medhin, Atalay Alem, Mesfin Araya, Abdulreshid Abdulahi, Mark Tomlinson, Marcus Hughes, Vikram Patel, Michael Dewey, Martin Prince

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


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


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.


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.


There is evidence for an independent role of sociocultural practices in maintaining perinatal mental health in this Ethiopian community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468 - 475
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


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