Published Papers - Abstract 449

Chojenta C, Lucke J & Loxton D. Does Social Support Reduce the Likelihood of Postnatal Depression in Australian Mothers? Archives of Women's Mental Health, 2009; 12(Supp 1): S20

Published abstract.This study examined the relationship between social support and postnatal depression. Longitudinal data was analysed, collected through the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH). The ALSWH started in 1996 when the younger cohort were aged 18–23, and participants have completed follow up surveys on a three yearly basis. Almost 6800 younger women have completed the second (2000), third (2003) and fourth (2006) follow up surveys, and of these women 9.8% reported being diagnosed or treated for postnatal depression in the three years prior to completing the fourth survey. Among other measures of health and lifestyle, participants were also asked a series of items derived from the Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) Social Support Index from Survey 2 onwards in order to measure perceived social support. This analysis compared the self-rated social support for mothers who have experienced PND with those who have not reported experiencing PND at the fourth survey. While significant results were not evident for some subscales of social support, the strongest association was found with affectionate support and positive social interaction, with mothers who rated their support as being available only some of the time significantly more likely than other women to experience postnatal depression. These results indicate that having positive social supports prior to and around the time of the birth of a child has a significant impact on the mental health of mothers.