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Qual Health Res. 2008 Sep;18(9):1161-73. doi: 10.1177/1049732308321736.

Women's care-seeking experiences after referral for postpartum depression.

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  • 1McMaster University, 1200 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. sword@mcmaster.ca


This qualitative descriptive study explored women's care-seeking experiences after referral for postpartum depression. Interviews with 18 participants revealed individual-, social network-, and health system-related factors that hindered and facilitated care seeking. Women's normalizing of symptoms, limited understanding of postpartum depression, waiting for symptom improvement, discomfort discussing mental health concerns, and fears deterred care seeking; symptom awareness and not feeling like oneself were facilitating influences. Family and friends sometimes hindered care seeking because they, too, normalized symptoms or had limited understanding of postpartum depression. Care seeking was facilitated when women encouraged a health professional visit or expressed worry and concern. Health system barriers included normalizing of symptoms, offering of unacceptable interventions, and disconnected care pathways. Care seeking was facilitated by having established and supportive relationships, outreach and follow-up, legitimization of postpartum depression, and timeliness of care. These findings can be used to guide clinical practice and service provision.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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