Pacific Islands Families Study: psychological distress among mothers of Pacific children living in New Zealand

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Objective:This study investigated: 1) the prevalence of psychological distress among a cohort of mothers of Pacific children; and 2) the socio-demographic and lifestyle variables associated with psychological distress.Method:The Pacific Islands Families (PIF) Study is a longitudinal investigation of a cohort of Pacific children born in Auckland, New Zealand, and their mothers and fathers. The 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ12) was used to assess psychological distress among mothers (N=851) at about 11 years postpartum.Results:Current psychological distress was reported by 19% of mothers, and six explanatory variables were significantly associated with maternal psychological distress: stressful life events, postnatal depression, marital status, maternal education, ethnicity and cultural alignment.Conclusion:These findings suggest that the mental health of Pacific people varies by particular ethnic group and cultural alignment. This highlights the need for culturally appropriate evaluation and treatment for at-risk Pacific mothers that will break down psychological, cultural and economic barriers to accessing help for psychological distress.Implications:By learning about factors that are potentially modifiable we can begin to identify the most appropriate ways to address their impact on psychological distress among Pacific women.

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