Postpartum Depression Research Implications for Health Policy

Thursday, 16 July 2009: 2:05 PM

Doris Ugarriza, ARNP, PhD
University of Miami School of Nursing, Coral Gables, FL

Learning Objective 1: track the development of a program of research about postpartum depression

Learning Objective 2: list the potential impact of a program of research about postpartum depression on national health policy

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to describe the results of 10 studies implemented about women and postpartum depression. Linkages are made between and among the studies and an avenue for building a program of research is outlined.  Once this linkage is made, the implications for the results of research and in particular this program of research is made for the development of health policy relevant to women and postpartum depression.

Methods: Qualitative and quantitative methods were used, alone and in combination, to undertake 10 different research projects about women and postpartum depression. Particular emphasis was placed on culture as it affects the incidence and treatment of postpartum affective disorders.  The program starts with identification of women suffering from postpartum depression, the varying types of treatments including biomedical and verbally mediated therapies, the facilitators and barriers to treatment including the knowledge base of health care providers, and the identification of postpartum depression prevention criteria.

Results: An analysis of the results of this program of research shows that the incidence of postpartum depression is about 12% of postpartum women in the United States. A variety of screening tools are available to identify women who are suffering from postpartum depression and treatment methods are effective if a postpartum depressed mother is properly guided in the process of obtaining help. Social support remains the mainstay for preventing postpartum depression.

Conclusion: The United States’ Health policy is deficient when compared to the policies of most other countries as these countries address the healthcare benefits allotted to postpartum women and their families. A comprehensive vetting of the issues of family health and the role of health care policy is integral to the reduction of postpartum depression in the United States. Routes to remedy this deficiency are discussed.">