Supporting women with postpartum anxiety: exploring views and experiences of specialist community public health nurses in the UK

Ashford, M., Ayers, S. & Olander, E. K. (2017). Supporting women with postpartum anxiety: exploring views and experiences of specialist community public health nurses in the UK. Health & Social Care In The Community, doi: 10.1111/hsc.12428

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Abstract

Anxiety is common among postpartum women and can have adverse effects on mother's and child's somatic and psychological health if left untreated. In the UK, nurses or midwifes with a specialisation in community public health nursing, also called health visitors (HVs), work with families who have children younger than 5 years of age and are therefore in a key position to identify and support women with postpartum mental health issues. Until recently, postpartum mental health support provided by HVs mainly focused on identifying and managing depression, but the updated clinical guidance by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence also includes guidance regarding screening and psychological interventions for perinatal anxiety. This study therefore aimed to explore HVs' experiences of supporting women with postpartum anxiety and their views on currently available care. Using a qualitative approach, in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 HVs from the UK between May and October 2015. Participants were interviewed in person at their workplace or on the phone/Skype. Using thematic analysis, four main themes emerged: identification and screening issues; importance of training; service usage; and status of current service provision. Women with postpartum anxiety were commonly encountered by HVs in their clinical practice and described as often heavily using their or other related healthcare services, which puts additional strain on HVs' already heavy workload. Issues with identifying and screening for postpartum anxiety were raised and the current lack of perinatal mental health training for HVs was highlighted. In addition, HVs described a current lack of good perinatal mental health services in general and specifically for anxiety. The study highlights the need for HV perinatal mental health training in general and postpartum anxiety specifically, as well as better coverage of specialist mental health services and the need for development of interventions targeted at postpartum anxiety.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Ashford, M. T., Ayers, S. and Olander, E. K. (2017), Supporting women with postpartum anxiety: exploring views and experiences of specialist community public health nurses in the UK. Health Soc Care Community, which has been published in final form at doi:10.1111/hsc.12428. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Uncontrolled Keywords: care; health visitors; postpartum anxiety; qualitative research; support
Subjects: R Medicine > RT Nursing
Divisions: School of Health Sciences > Department of Midwifery
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/16766

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