Cross-cultural experiences of maternal depression: associations and contributing factors for Vietnamese, Turkish and Filipino immigrant women in Victoria, Australia

Ethn Health. 2003 Aug;8(3):189-206. doi: 10.1080/1355785032000136416.


Objectives: To investigate in an Australian study of immigrant women conducted 6-9 months following childbirth (a) the associations of a range of demographic, obstetric, health and social context variables with maternal depression, and (b) women's views of contributing factors in their experiences of depression.

Design: Three hundred and eighteen Vietnamese, Turkish and Filipino women participated in personal interviews conducted by three bicultural interviewers in the language of the women's choice. Utilising three approaches to the assessment of maternal depression, the consistency of associations on the different measures is examined. Women's views of contributing factors are compared with previous research with largely English-speaking Australian-born women.

Results: Analysis of the associations of maternal depression revealed considerable consistency in associations among the three approaches to assessing depression. Significant associations with depression on at least two of the measures were seen for: mothers under 25 years, shorter residence in Australia, speaking little or no English, migrating for marriage, having no relatives in Melbourne, or no friends to confide in, physical health problems, or a baby with feeding problems. There were no consistent associations found with family income or maternal education, method of delivery and a range of other birth events, or women's views about maternity care. The issues most commonly identified by women in this study as contributing to depression are similar to those found previously for Australian-born women: isolation (in this study, including being homesick)--29%; lack of support and marital issues--25%; physical ill-health and exhaustion--23%; family problems--19%, and baby-related issues--17%. There were some differences in the importance of these among the three country-of-birth groups, but all except family issues were in the top four contributing factors mentioned by women in all groups.

Conclusions: These findings support the evidence for quite marked cross-cultural similarity in the associations of maternal depression and in women's views about their experiences.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Depression, Postpartum / ethnology*
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Labor, Obstetric / psychology
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Philippines / ethnology
  • Postnatal Care / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Support
  • Turkey / ethnology
  • Victoria
  • Vietnam / ethnology