Honesty and comfort levels in mothers when screened for perinatal depression and anxiety
on 24 January 2020
Forder PM, Rich J, Harris S et al. Women and Birth, 25 May 2019, online.
‘Women who are most likely to need mental health care during the perinatal period are also those least likely to be honest about their mental health’ concluded a recent study. See abstract below.
To evaluate the degree of honesty and level of comfort reported by women when questioned about their emotional wellbeing during the perinatal period; to investigate if honesty and comfort are associated with perinatal depression or perinatal anxiety; and to examine the reasons why women may not always respond honestly.
Qualitative and quantitative data from 1597 women from the cross-sectional perinatal mental health substudy (part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health) were analysed using a mixed methods approach.
When questioned by their health practitioner about their emotional wellbeing in the perinatal period, 20.7% of women indicated they had not always responded honestly. Reasons for not being honest reflected four main themes: normalizing of symptoms/coping; negative perceptions (self-and others); fear of adverse repercussions; and fear of involvement of health services (trust and confidentiality). The 38.9% of women who did not feel comfortable when questioned by their health practitioner about their emotional wellbeing were four times more likely to report perinatal depression (odds ratio = 4.09; 95% confidence interval = 2.55, 6.57) and nearly twice as likely to report perinatal anxiety (odds ratio = 1.90; 95% confidence interval = 1.24, 2.94) than other women.
Women who are most likely to need mental health care during the perinatal period are also those least likely to be honest about their mental health. A non-judgemental, open and reassuring approach by clinicians may help to reduce the stigma and fears contributing to lack of honest responses, and improve early diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems.
More information about the research can be found here.
Search pack of the month
P198 Perinatal Mental Health | Abstracts [373 records] £9.95
This month’s pre-prepared search pack contains information relating to perinatal mental health. It encompasses the treatment and experiences of women and partners experiencing mental health problems during the perinatal period. Includes service provision and interventions, rates of mental illness and levels of provision, and the impact on the infant. The pack does not include postnatal depression (PN16, PN115, PN116), antenatal depression (P132) or women with specific diagnosed mental disorders (MS54).
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