Household food insecurity and mental distress among pregnant women in Southwestern Ethiopia: A cross sectional study design

Mulusew G. Jebena, Mohammed Taha, Motohiro Nakajima, Andrine M Lemieux, Fikre Lemessa, Richard Hoffman, Markos Tesfaye, Tefera Belachew, Netsanet Workineh, Esayas Kebede, Teklu Gemechu, Yinebeb Tariku, Hailemariam Segni, Patrick Kolsteren, Mustafa N al'Absi

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41 Scopus citations


Background: There are compelling theoretical and empirical reasons that link household food insecurity to mental distress in the setting where both problems are common. However, little is known about their association during pregnancy in Ethiopia. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted to examine the association of household food insecurity with mental distress during pregnancy. Six hundred and forty-two pregnant women were recruited from 11 health centers and one hospital. Probability proportional to size (PPS) and consecutive sampling techniques were employed to recruit study subjects until the desired sample size was obtained. The Self Reporting Questionnaire (SRQ-20) was used to measure mental distress and a 9-item Household Food Insecurity Access Scale was used to measure food security status. Descriptive and inferential statistics were computed accordingly. Multivariate logistic regression was used to estimate the effect of food insecurity on mental distress. Results: Fifty eight of the respondents (9 %) were moderately food insecure and 144 of the respondents (22.4 %) had mental distress. Food insecurity was also associated with mental distress. Pregnant women living in food insecure households were 4 times more likely to have mental distress than their counterparts (COR = 3.77, 95 % CI: 2.17, 6.55). After controlling for confounders, a multivariate logistic regression model supported a link between food insecurity and mental distress (AOR = 4.15, 95 % CI: 1.67, 10.32). Conclusion: The study found a significant association between food insecurity and mental distress. However, the mechanism by which food insecurity is associated with mental distress is not clear. Further investigation is therefore needed to understand either how food insecurity during pregnancy leads to mental distress or weather mental distress is a contributing factor in the development of food insecurity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number250
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 8 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Jebena et al.


  • Ethiopia
  • Food insecurity
  • Mental distress
  • Pregnant women


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