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Perinatal Mental Health Treatment Needs, Preferences, and Barriers in Parents of Multiples

WENZE, SUSAN J. PhD; BATTLE, CYNTHIA L. PhD

Journal of Psychiatric Practice®: May 2018 - Volume 24 - Issue 3 - p 158–168
doi: 10.1097/PRA.0000000000000299
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Purpose: Many parents of multiples experience elevated mental health symptoms in the perinatal period. This population often presents with unique treatment needs and barriers to care; however, no tailored interventions have been developed for pregnant or postpartum mothers of multiples and/or their partners. This study involved an initial exploration of the perceived mental health treatment needs, preferences, and barriers to care in this population, as a first step toward developing such an intervention.

Methods: Participants were 241 parents of multiples who were recruited in-person and online. They completed self-report measures assessing treatment history/preferences, barriers to care, and symptoms during the perinatal period.

Results: Participants identified postpartum months 0 to 3 as the most difficult time. Few participants received any form of mental health treatment, although a significant percentage (approximately half) expressed interest in such treatment. Treatment interest was high for a range of clinical concerns. Participants were interested in both traditional treatment paradigms and eHealth approaches. Barriers to care were common, with the most common barrier being lack of time.

Conclusions: There is a large, unmet need for mental health treatment in parents of multiples in the perinatal period, especially the early postpartum months. eHealth strategies seem particularly feasible and acceptable in this population and may help circumvent common barriers to care. Clinical recommendations and considerations in treatment development are discussed.

WENZE: Department of Psychology, Lafayette College, Easton, PA, and Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI

BATTLE: Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Butler Hospital, and Women & Infants’ Hospital of Rhode Island, Providence, RI

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Please send correspondence to: Susan J. Wenze, PhD, Department of Psychology, Lafayette College, Oechsle Hall of Psychology, 350 Hamilton Street, Easton, PA 18042 (e-mail: wenzes@lafayette.edu).

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