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

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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.


Retrospective record review of referral documentation.


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


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


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


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.


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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