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Aust J Prim Health. 2012;18(4):308-12.

'You're more likely to tell the GP if you're asked': women's views of care from general practitioners in the first postpartum year.

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Healthy Mothers Healthy Families Research Group, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, Vic. 3052, Australia.


New mothers and their infants are high frequency users of primary health care services in Australia providing opportunities for GPs to engage with women about common postnatal morbidities. This study aimed to explore women's views of GP care in the first year following birth. We used semistructured interviews with a subsample of women who had participated in a population-based survey of women who gave birth in two Australian states (Victoria and South Australia) in 2007. Twenty-nine women were interviewed. Prominent themes that emerged were around issues of disclosure, including women's views on ways practitioner interactions and systems of care facilitate or hinder disclosure and subsequent discussion of health problems. Women reflected on the role GPs played in their health and wellbeing after childbirth, the importance of enquiry, communication style and the way access to, and time in, consultations impact on disclosure, perceived support and discussions. To improve care for women after childbirth we need to know the contexts that facilitate disclosure. Findings from this qualitative study deliver an important message to clinicians: women value primary care, identify issues that facilitate and hinder disclosure and describe 'good' encounters as ones where they feel understood, supported and reassured.

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