The Experience of Maternal and Child Health Nurses Responding to Women with Postpartum Depression
Previous studies have shown that maternal and child health nurses (MCH nurses) are in a unique position to help mothers with postpartum depression (PPD), but little has been done to understand the MCH nurses’ day-to-day experience. This Australian study addresses that issue by analyzing the results of eight in-depth interviews with MCH nurses. The data obtained from these interviews was analyzed using the phenomenological method described by Creswell, adapted from Moustakas . From this analysis five themes emerge: how MCH nurses recognize symptoms of PPD; the importance of having treatment options available; the role of rapport; the limits of MCH nurses in responding to PPD; and how MCH nurses respond when recognizing new cases of PPD. The results of the study reveal several areas for policy review, most significantly the need for more MCH nurse training to recognize the symptoms of PPD and identify the appropriate treatment option. In addition, a review of staff retention and mobility policies is recommended to improve rapport with mothers and maintain and grow knowledge of local treatment options.
KeywordsPostpartum depression Maternal and child health nurses Public health nurses Phenomenology Mental Illness Maternal health
My appreciation and thanks go to: Dr Lauren Rosewarne; the eight MCH nurses who participated in the study; the MCH coordinators at the four local councils; the Victorian Government Department of Education and Early Childhood Development; Nicola Quinn, Mental Health Branch, Victorian Department of Human Services; Michael Rush; Betty Christofilakis; Trish Elliott and the three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.
- 1.Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design choosing among five approaches (p. 27). California, USA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- 2.Austin, M-P. 2003. Australasian Psychiatry. Vol 11, No 4, December: 400.Google Scholar
- 3.Fettling, L., & Tune, B. (2005). Women’s experience of PND: Kitchen table conversations. Melbourne, Australia: IP Communications.Google Scholar
- 4.Mauthner, N. (2002). The darkest days of my life. Cambridge, USA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- 7.NHMRC: National Health and Medical Research Council. 2000. Postpartum Depression: Not just the baby blues: 11-12.Google Scholar
- 8.Ibid.Google Scholar
- 10.Municipal Association of Victoria. 2010. Maternal and child health nursing, http://www.mchnursing.org.au, accessed 6 August 2010.
- 11.Mental health and drugs division, victorian government department of health, september 2009. Shaping the future: The victorian mental health workforce strategy, final report. http://health.vic.gov.au/mentalhealth/publications/mhworkforce.pdf, accessed 6 August 2010.
- 13.Beyondblue is an Australian national depression initiative, www.beyondblue.org.au.
- 19.Westall, C. 2008. Doctoral thesis: ‘Kept in the dark’ the experience of postnatal depression. Melbourne: University of Melbourne.Google Scholar
- 20.Glavin, K., Ellefsen, B., Erdal, B. Norwegian public health nurses’ experience using a screening protocol for postpartum depression. Public Health Nursing, 27(3): 255–262.Google Scholar
- 21.Kvale, S., & Brinkmann, S. (2009). Interviews: Learning the craft of qualitative research interviewing, 2 e (p. 26). Los Angeles, USA: Sage Publications Inc.Google Scholar
- 22.Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (p. 57). California, USA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- 23.Polkinghorn in Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches, 2 e. California, USA: Sage Publications Inc.Google Scholar
- 24.Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches. California, USA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- 25.Milgrom, J., Martin, P. R., & Negri, L. M. (1999). Treating postnatal depression: A psychosocial approach for health care practitioners. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.Google Scholar
- 27.Fisher, J., de Cabral Mello, M., & Izutsu, T. (2009). Chapter 9, mental health aspects of pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. In P. S. Chandra, H. Herrman, J. Fisher, M. Kastrup, U. Niaz, M. B. Rondon, & A. Okasha (Eds.), Contemporary topics in women’s mental health (p. 214). England: Wiley Blackwell.Google Scholar