UBC Faculty Research and Publications

A qualitative inquiry on pregnant women’s preferences for mental health screening Bayrampour, Hamideh; McNeil, Deborah A; Benzies, Karen; Salmon, Charleen; Gelb, Karen; Tough, Suzanne


Background: Approaches to screening can influence the acceptance of and comfort with mental health screening. Qualitative evidence on pregnant women’s comfort with different screening approaches and disclosure of mental health concerns is scant. The purpose of this study was to understand women’s perspectives of different mental health screening approaches and the perceived barriers to the communication and disclosure of their mental health concerns during pregnancy. Methods: A qualitative descriptive study was undertaken. Fifteen women, with a singleton pregnancy, were recruited from a community maternity clinic and a mental health clinic in Calgary, Canada. Semi-structured interviews were conducted during both the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: Preferences for mental health screening approaches varied. Most women with a known mental health issue preferred a communicative approach, while women without a known mental health history who struggled with emotional problems were inclined towards less interactive approaches and reported a reluctance to share their concerns. Barriers to communicating mental health concerns included a lack of emotional literacy (i.e., not recognizing the symptoms, not understanding the emotions), fear of disclosure outcomes (i.e., fear of being judged, fear of the consequences), feeling uncomfortable to be seen vulnerable, perception about the role of prenatal care provider (internal barriers); the lack of continuity of care, depersonalized care, lack of feedback, and unfamiliarity with/uncertainty about the availability of support (structural barriers). Conclusions: The overlaps between some themes identified for the reasons behind a preferred screening approach and barriers reported by women to communicate mental health concerns suggest that having options may help women overcome some of the current disclosure barriers and enable them to engage in the process. Furthermore, the continuity of care, clarity around the outcomes of disclosing mental health concerns, and availability of immediate support can help women move from providing “the best answer” to providing an authentic answer.

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)