Thursday, 31 October 2013

Importance of Mothers’ perceptions of primary health-care providers

Mother and Baby 125A recent study has found that empathy, understanding and thoroughness in post partum care are particularly important for new mothers experiencing mental health problems or unsettled infant behaviour.  Lara Corr (University of Melbourne) Heather Rowe and Jane Fisher (Jean Hailes Research Unit) published their Study in the Australian Journal of Public Health.

138 women participants admitted with their infants to a private or public parenting service completed  a detailed self-report survey, including open-ended questions about experiences of primary health-care services, and also had a structured psychiatric interview to diagnose anxiety and depression.

Many of the women reported some physical health problem such as headache, migraine, back ache and haemorrhoids.  Approximately two thirds of the women met Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) criteria for major or minor depression, generalised anxiety disorder or specific phobias.

Women’s experiences of primary health care were influenced by their perceptions of provider competence and quality of interactions.  GPs who listened, understood and were thorough were assessed as providing good care.  Maternal, child and family health nurses were valued for providing support, advice and encouragement.  Negative experiences reported included feeling rushed during consultations, believing that GPs were not mental health-care providers and the clinician not being ‘good’ with the infant, whilst problems experienced with nurses included feeling judged or being given advice that was inconsistent or lacked an evidence-base.

The study findings present opportunities for clinicians to enhance their current practices by reflecting on the attributes and encounters that are perceived to have an impact on care quality, and ensuring that primary care providers have the necessary evidence-based training and support to respond to maternal needs.

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