236611 Understanding perinatal depression in diverse communities: A prerequisite for effective screening

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Patricia Lee King, PhD, MSW , Department of Social Work, School of Social Welfare, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI
David Pate Jr., PhD , Department of Social Work, School of Social Welfare, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI
Background: Maternal and child health programs screen racially and ethnically diverse women of low socioeconomic status for perinatal depression using tools validated among middle-class white women. This research explored how racially and ethnically diverse women of low socioeconomic status understand perinatal depression symptoms to evaluate the validity of perinatal depression and related measures in diverse communities. Methods: Four focus groups were conducted with a purposive sample of 32 pregnant (31%) or postpartum (69%) women receiving community-based services, who self-identified as African American (n=11), Caucasian (n=4), Hmong (n=8, 6 Hmong-speaking), or Latina (n=9, 8 Spanish-speaking). Women responded to open-ended questions about their perinatal physical, cognitive, and somatic experiences, and their perceptions of self and life. Focus groups were transcribed and analyzed using content and narrative analysis. Results: Preliminary analysis revealed four themes with screening implications. 1) Symptoms of depression were difficult to distinguish from perinatal experiences. 2) Emotional symptoms overshadowed physical, cognitive, and somatic symptoms in the perinatal period. 3) Symptoms were attributed to personal and social stressors over biological or psychological risk factors. 4) Caring for the fetus/infant placed additional stress on already strained personal and social resources, and distinguished perinatal depression from depression at other times. Conclusions: Perinatal depression is a valid construct among diverse women with low socioeconomic status. Screening measures must be evaluated for their ability to distinguish depression symptoms from perinatal experiences and stress. Measures must also assess the individual's social context to effectively screen for perinatal depression across increasingly diverse communities.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Participants will be able to: 1) Describe emotional experiences racially and ethnically diverse women of low socioeconomic status associated with perinatal depression symptoms. 2) Identify stressors women implicated as key factors in the development of perinatal depression symptoms. 3) Discuss implications of focus group findings for perinatal depression screening.

Keywords: Vulnerable Populations, Screening

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a doctoral dissertator with social work and public health research interests and 10 years combined experience in social work and public health practice, policy, administration, and research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.