Impacts of early marriage and adolescent pregnancy on mental and somatic health: the role of partner violence

Sezgin U. A., Punamäki R.

Archives of Women's Mental Health, 2019 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier


Researchers agree that early marriage (EM) and adolescent pregnancy (AP) can form severe risks for womens somatic, mental, and reproductive health, as well as on educational and social status. Yet, less is known about factors that may moderate or mediate these associations. This study examined, first, retrospectively the impacts of EM and AP on self-reported mental and somatic health among multicultural group of women living in Eastern Anatolia, Turkey. Second task was to analyze whether and how the partner violence would mediate and/or moderate between EM and AP and mental health problems. The participants were 1569 women (1672 years of age), who reported their age of being married, first pregnancy, and demographic characteristics. They described their mental health status through General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28: depressive, anxiety, social dysfunction, and somatization symptoms) and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; DSM-5). Womens reports of somatic illnesses were classified according to WHO-ICD-10. The revised conflict tactics scale, short form was used as a proxy to partner violence. Women who gave birth at 1319 years of age reported more anxiety and somatization symptoms than later delivered, and those married younger than 25 showed a higher level of depressive symptoms than later married. Both AP and EM formed a heightened risk for somatic illnesses. The partner violence functioned as a moderator; AP was associated with especially high levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms among women exposed to sexual coercion in their marriage. Non-significant mediation analysis indicates that partner violence did not explain the severe impacts of the AP and EM on womens mental health. Yet, the AP and EM were associated with heightened level of partner violence. Adolescent pregnancy forms a comprehensive mental health risk, and both AP and EM were risks for somatic illnesses, such as cardiovascular problems. The mental health risk of AP further intensified if women experienced sexual coercion in their partnership. Our fundamental work is to abolish these patriar- chal phenomena.