Effect of the 2015 Nepal Earthquakes on symptoms of common mental disorders among women who are pregnant

Goma Kumari Khatri, Thach Duc Tran, Sushil Baral, Jane Fisher

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Background Antenatal mental health problems are of concern globally not only because of the burden and limits to participation experienced by women but also because of risks for foetal neurocognitive development and adverse birth outcomes. The aim was to describe the indicative prevalence of and risk and protective factors for clinically-significant symptoms of antenatal common mental disorders (CMDs) among women who experienced the 2015 Nepal earthquakes during pregnancy. Methods A population-based cross-sectional study in Bhaktapur, one of 14 districts highly affected by the 2015 Nepal earthquakes. The primary outcome, clinically significant symptoms of CMDs, was ascertained using the Nepali validation of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS-N). In order to investigate potential trauma reactions, a subset of EPDS items as indicators of trauma symptoms was constructed. Standardised instruments and study-specific questions were used to measure potential risk and protective factors. Data were collected in individual structured interviews by trained health researchers. Hierarchical multiple linear regression models were used to establish risk and protective factors for clinically significant symptoms of CMDs and indicators of post-earthquake trauma reaction. Results Overall, 497/498 eligible pregnant women provided complete data. We found that 21.9% (95% CI, 18.4; 25.8) of participants had EPDS-N scores > 12 and another 17.1% (95% CI 13.9; 20.7) scored 10–12 indicating a high prevalence of clinically significant CMD symptoms. In total, 20 factors were included in the final hierarchical multiple linear regression model and together explained 33.3% of the variance in EPDS total scores; seven factors, including earthquake experiences and lifetime experience of intimate partner violence, increased risk and five including having income-generating work and a kind, and encouraging partner were protective. The association between earthquake experiences and the indicators of trauma symptoms was not significant in the hierarchical multiple linear regression analysis. Limitations The EPDS has not yet been formally validated in Nepal for use during pregnancy. Data were collected 6 months post-earthquake, so we were not able to capture the experiences of women who had spontaneous or induced abortions or premature births in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. Conclusions In addition to the restoration of antenatal and obstetric services, the mental health of women who are pregnant requires specific consideration and interventions after natural disasters. This should take into account the additional adverse impact of violence perpetrated by an intimate partner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-247
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Antenatal
  • Common Mental Disorders
  • Earthquake
  • Intimate Partner Violence

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