At least half of the 20% of mothers who experience mental health problems (MHPs) during pregnancy or after birth are not receiving the help they need that will lead to recovery. In order to identify where improvements need to be made it is necessary to describe exactly what is being done and the barriers and facilitators that compromise or enhance optimal care. The majority of mothers experience mild to moderate anxiety or depression. The expectation is that primary care professionals, such as health visitors (HVs), can provide the support they need that will lead to recovery. The aim of this study was explore the views of HVs regarding the content and purpose of an intervention to support mothers with MHPs, described as ‘listening visits’ (LVs). A link to an on-line survey was offered to the members and champions of the Institute of Health Visiting (n=9,474) March – May 2016. The survey was completed by 1599 (17%) of the target population, of whom 85% were offering LVs. The Template for Intervention Description and Replication (TIDieR) checklist was used to provide a framework to describe commonalities and variations in practice. There appeared to be a shared understanding of the rationale for LVs but a lack of agreement about what the intervention should be called, the techniques that should be used and the duration, frequency and expected outcomes of the intervention. Contextual factors such as staff shortages; conflicting priorities; the needs and circumstances of mothers; the capability and motivation of HVs; inadequate training and supervision; and absence of clear guidance contributed to variations in perceptions and practice. There are many ways in which the HV contribution to the assessment and management of mothers with MHPs could be improved. The intervention delivered by HVs needs to be more clearly articulated. The contextual factors influencing competent and consistent practice also need to be addressed.
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Lowenhoff, CatherineDavison-Fischer, JanPike, NickAppleton, Jane V.
Department of Psychology, Health and Professional Development
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