Online Resources for Women Experiencing PPD

Monday, 30 July 2012

June Andrews Horowitz, RN, PhD, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN
William F. Connell School of Nursing, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Christy Tran
Wm. F. Connell School of Nursing, Boston College, Chestnut HIll, MA

Learning Objective 1: Identify websites for postpartum women who may be experiencing postpartum depression (PPD)

Learning Objective 2: Examine how clinicians might might use websites to help women who may be experiencing PPD

Purpose: Women of childbearing age have increasingly turned to the internet as their primary source of health-related information. Because of the increase of Internet usage within this population, the Internet potentially can be a great asset to women suffering from postpartum depression (PPD) who may feel isolated and may be seeking information regarding symptoms and treatment options. The purpose of this study was to identify and evaluate websites for postpartum women who may be experiencing PPD

Methods: Online resources were found initially using Google as the search engine, and websites were further explored for links to other sites. The sites were then reviewed for the availability of PPD screening tools, follow-up for screening results, information regarding PPD, moderated discussion forums, mother-to-mother networking opportunities, and whether or not the site was professionally monitored and updated.

Results: A total of 36 websites were identified and reviewed. Many sites provided links to screening tools, but only one site offered follow-up to screening. Discussion forums, support groups, and social networking opportunities were available on most sites. The amount and accuracy of information regarding PPD varied from site to site, and no sites contained all the resources that were deemed important and evaluated.

Conclusion: Results of this study together with the increase in internet usage suggest the need for a reliable website for women experiencing PPD and supports the development of internet resources by healthcare providers. Professional monitoring and systematic evaluation of effects of usage of these internet resources are lacking but needed. Potential of internet-based approaches to early detection of PPD and treatment may prevent negative sequelae for mothers and infants. Evolving health care policy concerning internet-based health care may be informed by these results.