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Arch Womens Ment Health. 2004 Jul;7(3):183-91. Epub 2004 Jun 15.

Influence of depressive symptomatology on maternal health service utilization and general health.

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Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, 50 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3H4 Canada.



While postpartum depression is a well-established affective condition, information about its influence on health service utilization is scant. The objective of this study was to examine the influence of maternal mood on health service utilization and general health within the first 2 months postpartum.


As part of a population-based postpartum depression study, a cohort of 594 women from British Columbia completed postal questionnaires at 1, 4, and 8 weeks postpartum.


Women with depressive symptomatology had a significantly higher number of contacts with a health professional than those with non-depressive symptomatology. Furthermore, over 50% of high utilizers of family physician and public health nursing services in the first month postpartum exhibited depressive symptomatology. Women with depressive symptomatology were also significantly more likely to have lower scores on the SF-36 and to indicate the care they received from family physicians to be unhelpful.


Health professionals who discover a woman frequently using health services should closely examine the motivation for the visits and consider screening for postpartum depression. Future research should examine whether screening women with high utilization patterns reduces unnecessary health care visits and facilitates early diagnosis and treatment of postpartum depression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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