Details of Publication 985 for Project W068:

Forder P, Rich J, Harris S, Chojenta C, Reilly N, Austin M-P & Loxton D. Honesty and comfort levels in mothers when screened for perinatal depression and anxiety. Women and Birth, ; :

Purpose: To evaluate the degree of honesty and level of comfort reported by women when questioned about their emotional wellbeing during the perinatal period; to investigate if honesty and comfort are associated with perinatal depression or perinatal anxiety; and to examine the reasons why women may not always respond honestly.Methods: Qualitative and quantitative data from 1597 women from the cross-sectional perinatal mental health substudy (part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health) were analysed using a mixed methods approach.Results: When questioned by their health practitioner about their emotional wellbeing in the perinatal period, 20.7% of women indicated they had not always responded honestly. Reasons for not being honest reflected four main themes: normalizing of symptoms/coping; negative perceptions (self-and others); fear of adverse repercussions; and fear of involvement of health services (trust and confidentiality). The 38.9% of women who did not feel comfortable when questioned by their health practitioner about their emotional wellbeing were four times more likely to report perinatal depression (odds ratio?=?4.09; 95% confidence interval?=?2.55, 6.57) and nearly twice as likely to report perinatal anxiety (odds ratio?=?1.90; 95% confidence interval?=?1.24, 2.94) than other women.Conclusions: Women who are most likely to need mental health care during the perinatal period are also those least likely to be honest about their mental health. A non-judgemental, open and reassuring approach by clinicians may help to reduce the stigma and fears contributing to lack of honest responses, and improve early diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems.

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