Social and economic development and pregnancy mental health: secondary analyses of data from rural Vietnam

Ruby Stocker, Trang Nguyen, Thach Tran, Ha Tran, Tuan Tran, Sarah Hanieh, Beverley Ann Biggs, Jane Fisher

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5 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: This study aimed to establish whether changes in the socioeconomic context were associated with changes in population-level antenatal mental health indicators in Vietnam. METHODS: Social, economic and public policies introduced in Vietnam (1986-2010) were mapped. Secondary analyses of data from two cross-sectional community-based studies conducted in 2006 (n = 134) and 2010 (n = 419), involving women who were ≥ 28 weeks pregnant were completed. Data for these two studies had been collected in structured individual face-to-face interviews, and included indicators of antenatal mental health (mean Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale Vietnam-validation (EPDS-V) score), intimate partner relationships (Intimate Bonds Measure Vietnam-validation) and sociodemographic characteristics. Socioeconomic characteristics and mean EPDS-V scores in the two study years were compared and mediation analyses were used to establish whether indicators of social and economic development mediated differences in EPDS-V scores. RESULTS: Major policy initiatives for poverty reduction, hunger eradication and making domestic violence a crime were implemented between 2006 and 2010. Characteristics and circumstances of pregnant women in Ha Nam improved significantly. Mean EPDS-V score was lower in 2010, indicating better population-level antenatal mental health. Household wealth and intimate partner controlling behaviours mediated the difference in EPDS-V scores between 2006 and 2010. CONCLUSIONS: Changes in the socioeconomic and political context, particularly through policies to improve household wealth and reduce domestic violence, appear to influence women's lives and population-level antenatal mental health. Cross-sectoral policies that reduce social risk factors may be a powerful mechanism to improve antenatal mental health at a population level.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1001
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2020


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Economic development
  • Mental health
  • Pregnancy
  • Social change
  • Socioeconomic factors
  • Vietnam
  • Women’s health

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