The relationship between common mental disorders (CMDs), food insecurity and domestic violence in pregnant women during the COVID-19 lockdown in Cape Town, South Africa

Zulfa Abrahams*, Sonet Boisits, Marguerite Schneider, Martin Prince, Crick Lund

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: We aimed to explore the relationship between common mental disorders (CMDs), food insecurity and experiences of domestic violence among pregnant women attending public sector midwife obstetric units and basic antenatal care clinics in Cape Town during the COVID-19 lockdown. Methods: Perinatal women, attending 14 healthcare facilities in Cape Town, were enrolled in the study during baseline data collection before the COVID-19 lockdown. During the lockdown period, fieldworkers telephonically contacted the perinatal women who were enrolled in the study and had provided contact details. The following data were collected from those who consented to the study: socio-demographic information, mental health assessment, food insecurity status and experiences of domestic violence. Poisson regression was used to model the associations of a number of risk factors with the occurrence of CMDs. Results: Of the 2149 women enrolled in the ASSET study, 885 consented to telephonic interviews. We found that 12.5% of women had probable CMDs and 43% were severely food insecure. Psychological distress increased significantly during the lockdown period, compared to before the COVID-19 outbreak. Using multivariate Poisson regression modelling, we showed that the risk of CMDs was increased in women who were severely food insecure or who experienced psychological or sexual abuse. Conclusions: This study provides evidence of the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown on the mental health status of perinatal women living in low-resource settings in Cape Town and highlights how a crisis such as the COVID-19 lockdown amplifies the psycho-social risk factors associated with CMDs in perinatal women.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Depression
  • Food insecurity
  • Maternal
  • Mental health

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