Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 105–114 | Cite as

Postpartum depression and social support in a racially and ethnically diverse population of women

  • Christine Pao
  • Jerry GuintivanoEmail author
  • Hudson Santos
  • Samantha Meltzer-Brody
Original Article


Lack of social support is an important risk factor for postpartum depression (PPD), whereas the presence of social support can buffer against PPD. However, the relationship between social support and PPD in racial/ethnic minority women is still largely unknown. Our purpose was to examine the role of social support in a large, diverse population of PPD cases and controls. Participants (N = 1517) were recruited at the routine 6-week postpartum visit (± 1–2 weeks) from four different outpatient clinics in North Carolina. Case status was determined using the MINI International Neuropsychiatric Interview. Social support was measured using the Medical Outcomes Social (MOS) Support survey and the Baby’s Father Support Scale (DAD). We found that higher levels of social support had a strong protective association against PPD (MOS total score OR, 0.23; 95% CI, 0.19–0.27; p = 6.92E-90; DAD total score OR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.88–0.92; p = 1.69E-29), and the effects of social support did not differ when accounting for race/ethnicity. Additionally, PPD symptom severity is significantly and negatively correlated with the degree of social support. Our findings suggest that multi-dimensional aspects of social support may be protective for racial/ethnic minority women. We believe this study is currently the largest and most robust characterizing PPD case status and its association with social support in a diverse cohort of mothers. Future work is required to understand how best to implement culturally sensitive interventions to increase social support in minority perinatal women.


Postpartum depression Social support Paternal support Race Ethnicity 


Funding information

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Mental Health (S.M.B. grant no. 5R01MH095992-04) (J.G. grant no. 4T32MH093315-05).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Author S.M.B. has received research support from Sage Therapeutics and Janssen. The other authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

737_2018_882_MOESM1_ESM.docx (23 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 23 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine Pao
    • 1
  • Jerry Guintivano
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hudson Santos
    • 2
  • Samantha Meltzer-Brody
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.School of NursingUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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