Original Articles

Psychological Distress and Associated Factors Among a Sample of Pregnant Women in South Africa

Published in: Journal of Psychology in Africa
Volume 21, issue 3, 2011 , pages: 495–499
DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2011.10820489
Author(s): Karl PeltzerHuman Sciences Research Council, South Africa, Elisa ShikwaneHuman Sciences Research Council, South Africa, Gladys MatsekeHuman Sciences Research Council, South Africa


We sought to identify the prevalence of psychological distress and associated factors among pregnant women who were patients at antenatal primary care clinics in a South Africa district. A cross-sectional study using systematic sampling was conducted among 1497 pregnant women (age range=18 to 47 years; mean age=26.6 years, SD=6.1; Black African=98%), with a mean gestational age of 6.5 months (SD=1.6). They completed the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, a measure of psychological distress. Results showed high rates of severe psychological distress (26.5%). Increased distress was in multivariate analysis associated with having had an STI (other than HIV), being unhappy about current pregnancy, and HIV positive. Identification of pregnant women with psychological distress in public health clinics is crucial for effective and appropriate targeted interventions.

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