Cohort profile: intimate partner violence and mental health among women from refugee background and a comparison group of Australian-born - the WATCH cohort study

Susan Rees, Mohammed Mohsin, Batool Moussa, Jane Fisher, Zachary Steel, Nawal Nadar, Fatima Hassoun, Batoul Khalil, Mariam Youssef, Yalini Krishna

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5 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE: The Women Aware with Their Children study was created because prospective data are required to accurately guide prevention programmes for intimate partner violence (IPV) and to improve the mental health and resettlement trajectories of women from refugee backgrounds in Australia. PARTICIPANTS: 1335 women (685 consecutively enrolled from refugee backgrounds and 650 randomly selected Australian-born) recruited during pregnancy from three public antenatal clinics in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia. The mean age was 29.7 years among women from refugee backgrounds and 29.0 years among women born in the host nation. Main measures include IPV, mood, panic, post-traumatic stress disorder, disability and living difficulties. FINDINGS TO DATE: Prevalence of IPV at all three time points is significantly higher for refugee-background women. The trend data showed that reported IPV rates among Australian-born women increased from 25.8% at time 1 to 30.1% at time 3, while for refugee-background women this rate declined from 44.4% at time 1 to 42.6% at time 3. Prevalence of major depressive disorder (MDD) at all three time points is higher for refugee-background women. MDD among Australian-born women significantly declined from 14.5% at time 1 to 9.9% at time 3, while for refugee-background women it fluctuated from 25.1% at time 1 to 17.3% at time 2 and to 19.1% at time 3. FUTURE PLANS: We are currently examining trajectories of IPV and mental disorder across four time points. Time 4 occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling a unique opportunity to examine the impacts of the pandemic over time. Time 5 started in August 2021 and time 6 will begin approximately 12 months later. The children at time 5 are in the early school years, providing the capacity to examine behaviour, development and well-being of the index child.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere051887
Number of pages10
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Adult psychiatry

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