Partner violence and postnatal mental health: cross sectional analysis of factors associated with depression and anxiety in new mothers. Academic Article uri icon


  • Intimate-partner violence and poor mental health are common, harmful issues for women of childbearing age. Although the prevalence and correlates of postpartum depression are well established, far less is known about postpartum anxiety. We aimed to investigate the association between postnatal depression and anxiety, and intimate-partner violence among women attending Victorian Maternal and Child Health services, using data from a randomised control trial: Improving Maternal and Child Health care for Vulnerable Mothers (MOVE). These data included postnatal women who had given birth between May and December 2010. Multiple logistic regression was used to estimate the association between intimate partner violence (using the Composite Abuse Scale) and postnatal depression and anxiety (Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale), controlling for participant socio-demographic characteristics. Findings showed that abused women were more likely to report postnatal depressive and anxiety symptoms. There was an almost two-fold (odds ratio (OR) 1.76, 95% CI 1.03–3.01) and three-fold (OR 2.6, 95% CI 1.58–4.28) increase in the odds of reporting depressive and anxiety symptoms respectively, among abused compared with non-abused women. Abused women are at a higher risk of mental health problems. This study validated findings that intimate-partner violence is strongly associated with an increased risk of postnatal depression and highlighted the previously under-reported relationship with postnatal anxiety.

publication date

  • 2018