Assessing for and Treating Postpartum Depression in a Pediatric Primary Care Setting Using a Stepped Care Model: Is It Feasible?

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Postpartum Depression (PPD) occurs in 10-20% of new mothers. PPD can lead to serious health risks to both the mother and infant, increase the risk of complications during birth, and cause lasting effects on the development and wellbeing of the child. Many mothers suffering from PPD do not receive treatment due to fear of being stigmatized, lack of education, or not being able to access mental health services. High prevalence of PPD, along with the negative and lasting effects it can cause point to the importance of developing an effective and feasible method of assessing and treating this disorder. A pediatric primary care office may be an opportune setting to screen for PPD since mothers often accompany their children to regularly scheduled well child visits. While some studies have examined PPD screening within the pediatric primary care setting, few have explored the addition of an on-site Behavioral Health Consultant to provide brief interventions for depressed mothers as part of a stepped care model. The primary aim of the current study is assess the feasibility of implementing a stepped care protocol that assesses PPD and provides brief interventions and referrals for depressed mothers within a pediatric primary care clinic. The protocol consists of several phases including: 1) distribution of the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Screener to every mother arriving for a well child visit during the first six months of their child’s life; 2) appropriate documentation in the clinic’s electronic health record (EHR) of the Edinburgh score and resulting plan of action; 3) a brief same day intervention by the on-site Behavioral Health Consultant and referral to outside provider, if applicable; and 4) phone call follow up with the mother and referred provider, if applicable. Research assistants will monitor the EHR to determine the clinic’s fidelity to the protocol (e.g., if the Edinburgh is being administered properly). Data will also be collected from the EHR to determine if a correlation exists between Edinburgh scores and number of Emergency Room visits made by the child, immunizations administered to the child, and number of well child checks the child attended. Data collected throughout the month of March showing the Edinburgh uptake, consistency with protocol, and any correlation between Edinburgh scores and other variables will be presented.


Johnson City, TN

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