Australian Journal of Primary Health Australian Journal of Primary Health Society
The issues influencing community health services and primary health care
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Interactions between perceptions of relationship quality and postnatal depressive symptoms in Australian, primiparous women and their partners

Karen Wynter A B , Heather Rowe A and Jane Fisher A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A The Jean Hailes Research Unit, Monash University School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Level 6, The Alfred Centre, 99 Commercial Road, Melbourne, Vic. 3004, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: karen.wynter@monash.edu

Australian Journal of Primary Health 20(2) 174-181 https://doi.org/10.1071/PY12066
Submitted: 22 May 2012  Accepted: 1 February 2013   Published: 29 April 2013

Abstract

The present study aimed to investigate interactions between perceptions of quality of intimate partner relationship and postnatal depressive symptoms in members of heterosexual couples 6 months after the birth of their first infant, while controlling for other relevant risk and protective factors. Secondary analysis was conducted on data from a prospective community cohort study of Australian, primiparous women and their partners. The outcome measure was Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale score. Quality of intimate partner relationship, personality factors and infant behaviour were assessed using the standardised Intimate Bonds Measure, Vulnerable Personality Style Questionnaire and Barr Chart respectively. Complete data were available for 161 couples. Associations between Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale scores and own and partner ratings of the intimate partner relationship were estimated simultaneously using multilevel modelling. When other relevant factors were controlled, relationships in which partners were perceived as critical, coercive or intimidating were associated with significantly more depressive symptoms in individuals (P = 0.004) as well as their partners (P = 0.008). In both women and men, vulnerable personality traits, coincidental adverse life events and more infant crying and fussing were also associated with significantly more depressive symptoms. Thus, the quality of the intimate partner relationship is significantly associated with postnatal mental health in both women and men, especially in the context of coincidental stressful events including infant crying.

Additional keywords: actor-partner interdependence model, dyadic analysis, postnatal depression, relationship quality.


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