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Socioeconomic status indicators and common mental disorders: Evidence from a study of prenatal depression in Pakistan

Maselko, J and Bates, L and Bhalotra, SR and Gallis, J and O'Donnell, K and Sikander, S and Turner, EL (2018) 'Socioeconomic status indicators and common mental disorders: Evidence from a study of prenatal depression in Pakistan.' SSM - Population Health, 4. pp. 1-9. ISSN 2352-8273

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There is growing interest in the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES), poverty, and mental health in low and middle-income countries (LMIC). However, it is not clear whether a gradient approach focused on a wider SES distribution or a binary poverty approach is more salient for mental health in LMIC. Yet this distinction has implications for interventions aimed at improving population health. We contribute to the literature by examining how multiple indicators of socioeconomic status, including gradient SES and binary poverty indicators, contribute to prenatal depression symptoms in a LMIC context. Prenatal depression is an important public health concern with negative sequela for the mother and her children. We use data on assets, education, food insecurity, debt, and depression symptoms from a sample of 1,154 pregnant women residing in rural Pakistan. Women who screened positive for depression participated in a cluster randomized controlled trial of a perinatal depression intervention; all women were interviewed October 2015-February 2016, prior to the start of the intervention. Cluster-specific sampling weights were used to approximate a random sample of pregnant women in the area. Findings indicate that fewer assets, experiencing food insecurity, and having household debt are independently associated with worse depression symptoms. The association with assets is linear with no evidence of a threshold effect, supporting the idea of a gradient in the association between levels of SES and depression symptoms. A gradient was also initially observed with woman’s educational attainment, but this association was attenuated once other SES variables were included in the model. Together, the asset, food insecurity, and debt indicators explain 14% of the variance in depression symptoms, more than has been reported in high income country studies. These findings support the use of multiple SES indicators to better elucidate the complex relationship between socioeconomic status and mental health in LMIC.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: socioeconomic status; prenatal depression; maternal depression; poverty; LMIC; South Asia
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA790 Mental Health
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Institute for Social and Economic Research
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2017 14:19
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2022 19:20

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