Marital status, duration of cohabitation, and psychosocial well-being among childbearing women: a canadian nationwide survey

Am J Public Health. 2013 Feb;103(2):e8-e15. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.301116. Epub 2012 Dec 13.


Objectives: We examined the joint associations of marital status and duration of cohabitation on self-reported intimate partner violence, substance use, and postpartum depression among childbearing women.

Methods: We analyzed data from the 2006-2007 Canadian Maternity Experiences Survey, a cross-sectional nationwide sample of 6421 childbearing women. Cohabiting women were married or nonmarried women living with a partner; noncohabiters were single, divorced, or separated women. We further categorized cohabiters by their duration of cohabitation (≤ 2, 3-5, or > 5 years). We used logistic regression to generate adjusted odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals.

Results: About 92% of women were cohabiters. Compared with married women living with a husband more than 5 years, unmarried women cohabiting for 2 years or less were at higher odds of intimate partner violence (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 4.64; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.85, 7.56), substance use (AOR = 5.36; 95% CI = 3.06, 9.39), and postpartum depression (AOR = 1.87; 95% CI = 1.25, 2.80); these risk estimates declined with duration of cohabitation.

Conclusions: Research on maternal and child health would benefit from distinguishing between married and unmarried cohabiting women, and their duration of cohabitation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression, Postpartum / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Marital Status / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Spouse Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult