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Women Health. 2013;53(2):154-72. doi: 10.1080/03630242.2013.767303.

Psychopharmacology decision-making among pregnant and postpartum women and health providers: informing compassionate and collaborative care women's health.

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  • 1School of Social Work, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia 23284-2027, USA.


Psychopharmaceutical use by pregnant and postpartum women is complicated by the complexity of prescribing as well as the sociocultural context in which medication-related decisions are made. This study sought to advance understanding of decision-making processes and communication experiences regarding use of psychopharmaceuticals during pregnancy by considering both provider and consumer perspectives. An electronic survey was conducted with health care providers (Nā€‰=ā€‰88) and women consumers (Nā€‰=ā€‰83) from July 2010 through October 2011 regarding the perceived costs and benefits of taking mental health medication during and around the time of pregnancy. Descriptive analysis compared and contrasted experiences between the two groups regarding consumer-provider communication, critical incidents and triggers in decision-making, and response to case scenarios crafted around hypothetical client experiences. Both similarities and differences were evident among health care provider and women consumer responses regarding costs, benefits, communication experiences, and case scenario responses. Both quantitative and qualitative survey results indicated the need for more accurate, unbiased, and complete information exchange around mental health and medication. Study results suggested the centrality of the client-provider milieu to guide decision-making and emphasized the expressed need within both groups to create a shared decision-making practice environment characterized by authenticity, non-judgmental decision-making, compassion, humaneness, and reciprocity.

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