Background and purpose: Postpartum depression (PPD), the most prevalent serious postpartum complication, is a devastating illness that negatively impacts not only the mother, but also her infant, other family members, and work performance. There is an extensive body of research addressing systems-based quality improvement efforts for treatment of depression in primary care populations; however, little of this research has been directed toward postpartum populations. This paper presents a health care systems-based quality improvement model for the treatment of PPD derived from research outcomes in general primary care populations.
Methods: OVID/MEDLINE and PsychINFO searches were performed using the following terms: depression, postpartum depression, mass screening, collaborative care, stepped care, psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and education as keywords.
Main findings: The PPD management model described herein includes screening and diagnosis, initiation of active treatment, and use of collaborative care, which includes primary care visits, case manager follow-up, and more intensive care, through specialty consultation or referral, for complicated or difficult cases.
Conclusion: Stepped care, a form of collaborative depression treatment, is proposed as a practical, cost-effective method for improving PPD diagnosis and clinical outcomes.