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Female Sterilization and Poor Mental Health: Rates and Relatedness among American Indian and Alaska Native Women

  • Author(s): Cackler, CJJ
  • Shapiro, VB
  • Lahiff, M
  • et al.
Abstract

© 2016 Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. Objective: To describe the reproductive and mental health of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) women, an understudied population. Methods: Data from the 2004 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey were analyzed to determine the 1) prevalence of female sterilization among a nationally representative sample of reproductive age AI/AN women and 2) the association of female sterilization and poor mental health among AI/AN women compared with non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, and Hispanic women. Results: Nearly 25% of AI/AN women reported female sterilization, a prevalence higher than the comparison racial/ethnic groups (< .005). Adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, AI/AN women reporting female sterilization had nearly 2.5 times the odds of poor mental health compared with AI/AN women not reporting female sterilization (= .001). The same magnitude of relationship between female sterilization and poor mental health was not found for non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, and Hispanic women. Conclusions: The prevalence of female sterilization is greater among AI/AN women compared with non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, and Hispanic women, and AI/AN women reporting female sterilization have higher odds of reporting poor mental health. Common cultural experiences, such as a shared ancestral history of forced sterilizations, may be relevant, and could be considered when providing reproductive and mental health services to AI/AN women.

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