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Curtin University of Technology
Building Mental Wealth Building Mental Wealth
Untitled Document

Kelly Prandl

Exploration of Nyoongar women's explanatory model of stress during pregnancy and the development of a culturally sensitive assessment tool

Aboriginal women are five times more likely than their non-indigenous counterparts to die during or soon after childbirth and are more likely to have a baby born prematurely or to be of low birth weight. These statistics have been well documented throughout the world and a body of literature has emerged that suggests that poor maternal health behaviours are linked to these third world outcomes. Anecdotally these associations have also been linked to high levels of stress and stressful life experiences in the antenatal period of Aboriginal women. Researchers have found that chronic stress has a significant impact on the duration of a pregnancy, infant birth weight and long-term health and behaviour of children suggesting that addressing stress in the pregnancies of Aboriginal women is vital.

The aim of the current research is to (a) explore how Aboriginal women conceptualize stress and depression which will provide the background for (b) developing a culturally sensitive measure. This measure will assist health professionals providing pregnancy care to identify women experiencing high levels of distress. This aims to be addressed in two studies. The study employed qualitative methodology in order to understand the experience of stress as described by Aboriginal women. Despite an awareness of the stress Aboriginal women experience, there is not currently any effective, culturally appropriate way to identify these women in order to ensure they are offered support services. This research involved developing strategies to identify pregnant Nyoongar women needing help in the antenatal period.

Prandl, K. J., Rooney, R. Bishop, B. J. (2012). Mental health of Australian Aboriginal women during pregnancy: identifying the gaps. Archives of Women s Mental Health, 15(3), 149-154.