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Screening and Counseling for Postpartum Depression By Nurses: The Women's Views

Segre, Lisa S. PhD; O'Hara, Michael W. PhD; Arndt, Stephan PhD; Beck, Cheryl T. DNSc, CNM, FAAN

MCN, American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing: September/October 2010 - Volume 35 - Issue 5 - p 280–285
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0b013e3181e62679
Feature Article

Purpose: In this part 2 article of research examining a model of care in which nurses screen and counsel postpartum women for postpartum depression, acceptability of such a model to postpartum patients was evaluated with a diverse sample of American women.

Study Design and Methods: Descriptive survey of two groups: 691 predominately white postpartum women with relatively high annual incomes (Sample 1) and 132 low-income women, some of whom were ethnic minorities (Sample 2). The surveys were distributed and needed to be mailed back to the investigators. The response rate was 72% in Sample 1 and 30% in Sample 2.

Results: The overwhelming majority in both groups (>90%) felt that it was acceptable for nurses to perform screening for postpartum depression and for nurses to do the necessary counseling. More than half in each sample were "definitely willing" to see a nurse for counseling. Although women in both samples had positive views, when compared with each other, women with higher incomes (Sample 1) had more positive views of nurse-delivered mental healthcare. More than half in each sample were "definitely willing" to see a nurse for counseling. For Sample 1, 15% reported having taken medications for postpartum depression; in Sample 2 this number was 22.3%.

Clinical Implications: Nurses have frequent contact with postpartum women; as such, they are well positioned to provide depression screening and counseling. Nurse-delivered mental healthcare has the potential to obviate many barriers that prevent the detection and treatment of depression, and ultimately improve outcomes for infant and children.

Dr. Segre's Part 2 study (Part 1 published in the last issue of MCN) asked women if they would find it acceptable for nurses to screen and then counsel them for PPD.

Lisa S. Segre, PhD, is an Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, University of Iowa. She can be reached via Lisa-segre@uiowa.edu

Michael W. O'Hara, PhD, is a Professor and Starch Faculty Fellow, Department of Psychology, University of Iowa.

Stephan Arndt, PhD, is a Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Carver College of Medicine, Professor, Department of Biostatistics, College of Public Health, Director, Iowa Consortium for Substance Abuse Research, University of Iowa.

Cheryl T. Beck, DNSc, CNM, FAAN, is a Distinguished Professor, School of Nursing, University of Connecticut.

The authors have disclosed that there are no financial relationships related to this article.

Financial support was provided by the National Institute of Mental Health grants (NIMH-Supplement to MH59668) and (NIMH K-23 MH075964).

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.