Details of Publication 623 for Project A276:

Reilly N, Harris S, Loxton D, Chojenta C, Forder P, Milgrom J & Austin M-P. Referral for management of emotional health issues during the perinatal period: does mental health assessment make a difference? Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care., 2013; 40(4): 297-306

Background: There exists little evidence that routine mental health assessment in the perinatal period positively impacts on rates of referral for emotional health issues.This study aimed to evaluate the impact of this early intervention approach on reported referrals for emotional health issues during pregnancy and the first postpartum year.Method: A subsample of women (N = 1,804) drawn from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health participated in the study. Results: Multivariate analyses showed that predictors of being given a referral for emotional health issues during pregnancy and the postnatal period, respectively, included assessment of past mental health (adj. OR = 4.40, p < 0.001, and adj. OR = 5.69, p < 0.001), assessment of current mental health (adj. OR = 2.47, p < 0.001, and adj. OR = 2.72, p < 0.001), and reported experience of significant emotional distress (adj. OR = 2.58, p < 0.001, and adj. OR = 2.83, p < 0.001). Conclusions: This study highlights that enquiry into risk factors such as past history (in addition to current mental health) enhances initiation of referrals. Importantly, results suggest that enquiry about current mental health is associated with appropriate rates of referral rather than a nonspecific initiation of referrals. In line with Australia’s Clinical Practice Guidelines for Perinatal Mental Health, the value of a comprehensive approach to mental health assessment to aid decision making around referral for further assessment or care is particularly evident.