A Comparative Study On Empowerment Status and Postpartum Depression Between Immigrant and Native Women in Taipei City, Taiwan

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Li-Yin Chien, ScD
Institute of Clinical and Community Health Nursing, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan
Chen-Jei Tai, MD, PhD
Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Taipei Medical University Hospital & Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan

Learning Objective 1: be aware of differences in empowerment status and postpartum depression between immigrant and native women.

Learning Objective 2: consider the reasons underlying lower empowment status and higher depressive symptomatology among immigrant women.

Purpose: During the past decade, increasing number of Taiwanese men have married women from other South-East Asian countries. Many immigrant women were married for economical reasons and there was a general lack of affection as the basis for marriage. The objectives of this study were to compare the empowerment status and postpartum depression between immigrant and native women in Taiwan

Methods: Immigrant women from China and Vietnam who had delivered a healthy infant in the past 2 years were recruited at health centers, while native women were recruited at a hospital. The resultant samples were 506 women, with half being immigrants and half being native women. A face-to-face interview with structured questionnaires was used to collect the data. We defined empowerment as level of decision power exerted by women in personal, child, and family matters. Empowerment status was measured by a scale including eight 5-point-likert items, with scores ranging from 0 to 32 and higher scores indicating higher empowerment status. Depression was measured by Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, with higher scores indicating higher depressive symptomatology.

Results: Immigrant women had a lower mean empowerment score and a higher mean depression score comparing to native women (16.3 versus 22.2 for empowerment; 9.9 versus 3.3 for depression; both p<0.001). Empowerment was negatively associated with depression among native women (r=-0.52, p<0.01), while in immigrant women, empowerment was positively associated with depression (r=0.20, p<0.01).

Conclusion: This study found a lower empowerment status and a higher depressive symptomatology among postpartum immigrant women in comparison with native women in Taiwan. Postpartum health services should include depression assessment and management, with special emphasis on immigrant women. Health professionals should advocate for increased empowerment for immigrant women. Though empowerment status was negatively related to depression among native women, yet this relationship did not sustain among immigrant women.