Bedaso, A., Adams, J., Peng, W. et al. Prevalence and determinants of low social support during pregnancy among Australian women: a community-based cross-sectional study. Reprod Health 18, 158 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12978-021-01210-y
Pregnancy is a time for women in which the need for social support is crucial. Social support reduces stressors and improves the emotional and physical well-being of pregnant women. Women receiving low social support during pregnancy are at risk of substances use, developing mental illness, and adverse birth outcomes. The current study aims to determine the prevalence and determinants of low social support during pregnancy among Australian women.
Data were obtained from the 1973–1978 cohort of Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH) and those who report being pregnant (n = 493) were included in the current analyses. Social support was assessed using Medical Outcomes Study Social Support index (MOSS). A logistic regression model was applied to identify determinants of low social support, separately for each MOSS domain.
The study found that 7.1% (n = 35) of pregnant women reported low social support. Significant determinants of low emotional support were non-partnered (AOR = 4.4, 95% CI: 1.27, 14.99), difficulty managing on available income (AOR = 3.1, 95% CI: 1.18, 8.32), experiencing depressive symptoms (AOR = 8.5, 95% CI: 3.29, 22.27) and anxiety symptoms (AOR = 2.9, 95% CI: 1.26, 7.03). Significant determinants of low affectionate support were suffering from depressive symptoms (AOR = 5.3, 95% CI: 1.59, 17.99), having anxiety symptoms (AOR: 6.9, 95% CI: 2.21, 22.11) and being moderately/very stressed (AOR: 3, 95% CI: 1.17, 7.89). Significant determinants of low tangible support were difficulty managing available income (AOR = 3, 95% CI: 1.29, 6.95), and being depressed (AOR = 2.8, 95% CI: 1.48, 5.34).
The study revealed that 7.1% of pregnant women reported low social support. Having a mental health problems, being stressed, being from low socio-economic status and being non-partnered were significant determinants of low social support during pregnancy. Maternal health professionals and policymakers can use this information to screen pregnant women at risk of receiving low social support and improve the level of support being provided.
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