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Conceptual frameworks of barriers and facilitators to perinatal mental healthcare: the MATRIx models

Webb, R. ORCID: 0000-0002-8862-6491, Ford, E., Easter, A. , Shakespeare, J., Holly, J., Hogg, S., Coates, R., Ayers, S. & Study Team, MATRIx (2023). Conceptual frameworks of barriers and facilitators to perinatal mental healthcare: the MATRIx models. BJPsych Open, 9(4), article number E127. doi: 10.1192/bjo.2023.510


Background: Perinatal Mental Health (PMH) problems are a leading cause of maternal death and increase the risk of poor outcomes for women and their families. It is therefore important to identify the barriers and facilitators to implementing and accessing PMH care.

Aim: To develop a conceptual framework of barriers and facilitators to PMH care to inform PMH services.

Methods: Relevant literature was systematically identified then categorised and mapped onto the framework. The framework was then validated through evaluating confidence with the evidence base, and feedback from stakeholders (women and families; health professionals; commissioners and policy makers).

Results: Barriers and facilitators to PMH care were identified at seven levels: Individual (e.g., beliefs about mental illness); Health professional (e.g., confidence addressing perinatal mental illness); Interpersonal (e.g., relationship between women and health professionals); Organisational (e.g., continuity of carer); Commissioner (e.g., referral pathways); Political (e.g., women’s economic status); and Societal (e.g., stigma). The MATRIx conceptual frameworks provide pictorial representations of 66 barriers and 39 facilitators to PMH care.

Conclusions: The MATRIx frameworks highlight the complex interplay of individual and system level factors across different stages of the care pathway that influence women accessing PMH care and effective implementation of PMH services. Recommendations are made for health policy and practice. These include using the conceptual frameworks to inform comprehensive, strategic and evidence-based approaches to PMH care; ensuring care is easy to access and flexible; providing culturally sensitive care; adequate funding of services; and quality training for health professionals with protected time to complete it.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution and reproduction, provided the original article is properly cited. Copyright © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
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