Patterns of separation anxiety symptoms amongst pregnant women in conflict-affected Timor-Leste: Associations with traumatic loss, family conflict, and intimate partner violence

D. M. Silove, A. K. Tay, Wietse Anton Tol, N. Tam, N. dos Reis, Z. da Costa, C. Soares, S. Rees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background Adult separation anxiety (ASA) symptoms are prevalent amongst young women in low and middle-income countries and symptoms may be common in pregnancy. No studies have focused on defining distinctive patterns of ASA symptoms amongst pregnant women in these settings or possible associations with trauma exposure and ongoing stressors. Methods In a consecutive sample of 1672 women attending antenatal clinics in Dili, Timor-Leste (96% response), we assessed traumatic events of conflict, ongoing adversity, intimate partner violence (IPV), ASA, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and severe psychological distress. Latent Class Analysis was used to identify classes of women based on their distinctive profiles of ASA symptoms, comparisons then being made with key covariates including trauma domains of conflict, intimate partner violence (IPV) and ongoing stressors. Results LCA yielded three classes, comprising a core ASA (4%), a limited ASA (25%) and a low symptom class (61%). The core ASA class reported exposure to multiple traumatic losses and IPV and showed a pattern of comorbidity with PTSD; the limited ASA class predominantly reported exposure to ongoing stressors and was comorbid with severe psychological distress; the low symptom class reported relatively low levels of exposure to trauma and stressors. Limitations The study is cross-sectional, cautioning against inferring causal inferences. Conclusions The core ASA group may be in need of immediate intervention given the high rate of exposure to IPV amongst this class. A larger number of women experiencing a limited array of non-specific ASA symptoms may need assistance to address the immediate stressors of pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)292-300
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume205
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 15 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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