Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 242–248 | Cite as

Pacific Islands Families Study: Intimate Partner Violence and Postnatal Depression

  • Wanzhen Gao
  • Janis Paterson
  • Max Abbott
  • Sarnia Carter
  • Leon Iusitini
Original Paper


Aim The present study examined the association between maternal intimate partner violence (IPV) and postnatal depression (PND) 6 weeks after giving birth. Study Design Data were gathered from the Pacific Islands Families Study. Mothers of a cohort of Pacific infants born in Auckland, New Zealand during 2000 were interviewed 6 weeks after giving birth. There were 1,085 mothers cohabiting in married or de-facto partnerships who completed measures of IPV and PND at the 6-week assessment point. Results Women who were victims of physical violence were more likely to report postnatal depressive symptoms than those who were not (29.6% vs. 10.9%, OR: 3.44, 95% CI: 2.42, 4.97). The adjusted odds remained statistically significant (OR: 2.34, 95% CI: 1.52, 3.60). Conclusion Findings suggest that being the victim of physical violence more than doubles the risk of PND. The results of the study may help to develop culturally appropriate social services and policies for Pacific women.


Intimate partner violence Family violence Maternal health Postnatal depression Postpartum depression 



The Pacific Islands Families (PIF) Study is funded by grants awarded from the Foundation for Research, Science & Technology, the Health Research Council of New Zealand and the Maurice & Phyllis Paykel Trust. The authors gratefully acknowledge the families who participate in the study as well as other members of the research team. In addition we wish to express our thanks to the PIF Advisory Board for their guidance and support.


  1. 1.
    Pallitto CC, O’Campo P. The relationship between intimate partner violence and unintended pregnancy: analysis of a national sample from Colombia. Int Fam Plan Perspect. 2004;30(4):165–73.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Campbell JC. Health consequences of intimate partner violence. Lancet. 2002;359(9314):1331–6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Golding JM. Intimate partner violence as a risk factor for mental disorders: a meta-analysis. J Fam Violence. 1999;14(2):99–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Janssen PA, Holt VL, Sugg NK, Emanuel I, Critchlow CM, Henderson AD. Intimate partner violence and adverse pregnancy outcomes: a population-based study. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2003;188(5):1341–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Moore M. Reproductive health and intimate partner violence. Fam Plann Perspect. 1999;31(6):302–6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Fanslow JL, Robinson EM. Violence against women in New Zealand: prevalence and health consequences. NZ Med J. 2004;117(1206):U1173.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Cascardi M, O’Leary KD, Schlee KA. Co-occurrence and correlates of posttraumatic stress disorder and major depression in physically abused women. J Fam Violence. 1999;14(3):227–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Watson CG, Barnett M, Nikunen L, Schultz C, Randolph-Elgin T, Mendez CM. Lifetime prevalences of nine common psychiatric/personality disorders in female domestic abuse survivors. J Nerv Ment Dis. 1997;185(10):645–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Dienemann J, Boyle E, Baker D, Resnick W, Wiederhorn N, Campbell J. Intimate partner abuse among women diagnosed with depression. Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2000;21(5):499–513.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    National Health and Medical Research Council, Postnatal depression—a systematic review of published scientific literature to 1999. Canberra: NHMRC; 2000.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    O’Hara MW, Swain AM. Rates and risk of postnatal depression—a meta-analysis. Int Rev Psychiatry. 1996;8:37–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Webster ML, Thompson JMD, Mitchell EA, Werry JS. Postnatal depression in a community cohort. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 1994;28(1):42–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    McGill H, Burrows VL, Holland LA, Langer HJ, Sweet MA. Postnatal depression: a Christchurch study. NZ Med J. 1995;108(999):162–5.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Lown EA, Vega WA. Intimate partner violence and health: self-assessed health, chronic health, and somatic symptoms among Mexican American women. Psychosom Med. 2001;63(3):352–60.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Vos T, Astbury J, Piers LS, Magnus A, Heenan M, Stanley L, et al. Measuring the impact of intimate partner violence on the health of women in Victoria, Australia. Bull World Health Organ. 2006;84(9):739–44.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Hurwitz EJ, Gupta J, Liu R, Silverman JG, Raj A. Intimate partner violence associated with poor health outcomes in U.S. South Asian women. J Immigr Minor Health. 2006;8(3):251–61.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Bonomi AE, Thompson RS, Anderson M, Reid RJ, Carrell D, Dimer JA, et al. Intimate partner violence and women’s physical, mental, and social functioning. Am J Prev Med. 2006;30(6):458–66.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Carbone-Lopez K, Kruttschnitt C, Macmillan R. Patterns of intimate partner violence and their associations with physical health, psychological distress, and substance use. Public Health Rep. 2006;121(4):382–92.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Johnstone SJ, Boyce PM, Hickey AR, Morris-Yates AD, Harris MG. Obstetric risk factors for postnatal depression in urban and rural community samples. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2001;35(1):69–74.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Glasser S, Barell V, Boyko V, Ziv A, Lusky A, Shoham A, et al. Postpartum depression in an Israeli cohort: demographic, psychosocial and medical risk factors. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2000;21:99–108.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Gross KH, Wells CS, Radigan-Garcia A, Dietz PM. Correlates of self-reports of being very depressed in the months after delivery: results from the pregnancy risk assessment monitoring system. Matern Child Health J. 2002;6:247–53.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Abbott MW, Williams MM. Postnatal depressive symptoms among Pacific mothers in Auckland: prevalence and risk factors. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2006;40(3):230–8.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Dennis C-L, Ross L. Women’s perceptions of partner support and conflict in the development of postpartum depressive symptoms. J Adv Nurs. 2006;56(6):588–99.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Statistics New Zealand: 2001 Census of populations and dwellings: ethnic groups. Wellington: Statistics New Zealand; 2001.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Statistics New Zealand: QuickStata about New Zealand’s population and dwellings: Revised 18 May 2007. Wellington: Statistics New Zealand; 2007.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Statistics New Zealand: Pacific progress. A report on the economic status of Pacific peoples. Wellington: Statistics New Zealand; 2002.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Counts D: Domestic violence in Oceania. Pac Stud. 1990;13(3):225–54.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Public Health Commission. The Health of Pacific islands people in New Zealand. Wellington: Public Health Commission; 1994.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Nero K. The hidden pain: drunkenness and domestic violence in Palau. Pac Stud. 1990;13:63–92.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Lealaiauloto R, Bridgman G. Pacific Island postnatal distress. Auckland: Mental Health Foundation of Aotearoa/New Zealand; 1997.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Straus MA. Leveling, civility and violence in the family. J Marr Fam. 1974;36:13–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Cox JL, Holden JM, Sagovsky R. Detection of postnatal depression. Development of the 10-item Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. Br J Psychiatry. 1987;150:782–6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Paterson J, Feehan M, Butler S, Williams M, Cowley-Malcolm E. Intimate partner violence within a cohort of Pacific mothers living in New Zealand. J Interpers Violence. 2007;22(6):698–721.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Paterson J, Tukuitonga C, Abbott M, Feehan M, Silva P, Percival T, et al. Pacific islands families: first 2 years of life study–design and methodology. NZ Med J. 2006;119(1228):U1814.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Straus MA. Measuring intrafamily conflict and violence: the conflict tactics (ct) scales. In: Straus MA, Gelles RJ, editors. Physical violence in American Families: risk factors and adaptions to violence in 8,145 families. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books; 1990. p. 29–47.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Straus MA. The conflict tactics scale and its critics: an evaluation and new data on validity and reliability. In: Straus MA, Gelles RJ, editors. Physical violence in American families: risk factors and adaptions to violence in 8,145 families. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books; 1990. p. 49–73.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Goldberg DP, Williams P. A user’s guide to the general health questionnaire. Windsor, UK: NFER-Nelson; 1988.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Fox RA. Parent behaviour checklist. Brandon, Vermont: Clinical Psychology Publishing Co. Inc.; 1994.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Tsai JL, Ying Y, Lee PA. The meaning of being Chinese and being American: variation among Chinese and American young adults. J Cross Cult Psychol. 2000;31:302–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Hegarty K, Gunn J, Chondros P, Small R. Association between depression and abuse by partners of women attending general practice: descriptive, cross sectional survey. BMJ. 2004;328(7440):621–4.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Beck C. The effects of postpartum depression on maternal–infant interaction: a meta-analysis. Nurs Res. 1995;44:298–304.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Campbell JC, Poland ML, Waller JB, Ager J. Correlates of battering during pregnancy. Res Nurs Health. 1992;15:219–26.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Gotlib IH, Whiffen VE, Wallace PM, Mount JH. Prospective investigation of postpartum depression: factors involved in onset and recovery. J Abnorm Psychol. 1991;100:122–32.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Martin S, Li Y, Casanueva C, Harris-Britt A, Kupper L, Cloutier S. Intimate partner violence and women’s depression before and during pregnancy. Violence Against Women. 2006;12(3):221–39.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Ministry of Social Development, Te Rito. New Zealand family violence prevention. Wellington: Ministry of Social Development; 2002.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wanzhen Gao
    • 1
  • Janis Paterson
    • 1
  • Max Abbott
    • 2
  • Sarnia Carter
    • 1
  • Leon Iusitini
    • 1
  1. 1.National Institute for Public Health and Mental Health Research, Faculty of Health and Environmental SciencesAUT UniversityAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Faculty of Health and Environmental SciencesAUT UniversityAucklandNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations