Correlates of Lifetime Trauma Exposure Among Pregnant Women from Cape Town, South Africa

  • Bronwyn Myers
  • Hendrée E. Jones
  • Irene A. Doherty
  • Tracy L. Kline
  • Mary E. Key
  • Kim Johnson
  • Wendee M. Wechsberg


A cross-sectional survey of 298 pregnant women from Cape Town, South Africa was conducted to examine socio-demographic, reproductive health, mental health, and relationship correlates of lifetime trauma exposure and whether these correlates vary as a function of age. Overall, 19.8 % of participants reported trauma exposure. We found similarities and differences in correlates of trauma exposure among women in emerging adulthood and older women. Prior termination of pregnancy was associated with trauma exposure in both age groups. Difficulties in resolving arguments, lifetime substance use, and a prior sexually transmitted infection were associated with trauma exposure among women in emerging adulthood. In contrast, depression and awareness of substance abuse treatment programmes were associated with trauma exposure among older women. These findings highlight the need for interventions that prevent and treat trauma exposure among vulnerable women. Such interventions should be tailored to address the correlates of trauma exposure in each age group.


Trauma exposure Pregnant women Emerging adulthood Mental health South Africa 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bronwyn Myers
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hendrée E. Jones
    • 3
    • 4
  • Irene A. Doherty
    • 5
  • Tracy L. Kline
    • 5
  • Mary E. Key
    • 5
  • Kim Johnson
    • 1
  • Wendee M. Wechsberg
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7
    • 8
  1. 1.Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Research UnitSouth African Medical Research CouncilTygerbergSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Mental HealthUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa
  3. 3.UNC Horizons Program, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of MedicineUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  4. 4.Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of MedicineJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  5. 5.RTI International, Research Triangle ParkRaleighUSA
  6. 6.Gillings Global School of Public HealthUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  7. 7.Psychology in the Public InterestNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  8. 8.Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesDuke University School of MedicineDurhamUSA

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