Attendance at Mental Health Appointments by Women Who Were Referred During Pregnancy or the Postpartum Period

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Abstract

Objective:

To describe characteristics of women referred to mental health care during pregnancy or the year after giving birth and to identify characteristics associated with attendance at mental health intake visits.

Design:

Retrospective record review of referral documentation.

Setting:

Women's health practices and perinatal mental health clinics in urban areas.

Participants:

The sample included 647 women during pregnancy or the year after giving birth who were referred for mental health treatment.

Methods:

We reviewed the referral data sent from women's health care providers to perinatal mental health clinics to determine if mental health visits occurred.

Results:

Fifty percent of the 647 women who accepted perinatal mental health referrals had intake appointments. Women were more likely to participate in an intake appointment if in-home services were offered (p < .01). Those with lower income were also more likely to participate (p < 0.05). Those with histories of perinatal loss and those who self-referred tended to be more likely to participate, although these relationships were statistically nonsignificant.

Conclusion:

Even among women who accepted referrals to mental health services, only half attended intake appointments. For this group of pregnant women and those in the first year after birth, in-home mental health visits were most likely to result in care engagement, which has important implications for service delivery.

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