Women's attitudes, preferences, and perceived barriers to treatment for perinatal depression

Birth. 2009 Mar;36(1):60-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-536X.2008.00296.x.


Background: Perinatal depression is associated with potential negative consequences for the mother and infant, and therefore efforts to improve treatment access and efficacy are warranted. The purpose of this study was to examine pregnant women's preferences and attitudes about treatment for depression, and perceived potential barriers to accessing treatment.

Methods: Data were collected by means of a questionnaire from a convenience sample of 509 predominantly well-educated, high-income, married women in the northeastern United States during the last trimester of pregnancy. Participants were queried as to treatment modalities in which they would most likely participate if they wanted help for depression, their attitudes toward psychotherapeutic and pharmacological treatments, and perceived barriers to receiving help.

Results: Most women (92%) indicated that would likely participate in individual therapy if help was needed. Only 35 percent stated that they would likely take medication if recommended, and 14 percent indicated that they would participate in group therapy. The greatest perceived potential barriers to treatment were lack of time (65%), stigma (43%), and childcare issues (33%). Most women indicated a preference to receive mental health care at the obstetrics clinic, either from their obstetrics practitioner or from a mental health practitioner located at the clinic. Factors associated with acceptability of various depression treatments are presented.

Conclusions: Understanding what prevents women from seeking or obtaining help for depression and determining what they prefer in the way of treatment may lead to improved depression treatment rates and hold promise for improving the overall health of childbearing women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Communication Barriers
  • Counseling
  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis
  • Depression, Postpartum / therapy
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Mental Health Services
  • Middle Aged
  • New England
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, Hospital
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy*
  • Young Adult


  • Antidepressive Agents