Nursing care for postpartum depression, part 1: do nurses think they should offer both screening and counseling?

MCN Am J Matern Child Nurs. 2010 Jul-Aug;35(4):220-5. doi: 10.1097/NMC.0b013e3181dd9d81.


Purpose: To assess nurses' views of a nursing model in which nurses screen and also treat new mothers who exhibit symptoms of depression.

Study design and methods: This is Part 1 of this descriptive survey (Part 2 in MCN 35(5)), in which nurses (n = 520) completed a statewide survey assessing nurses' views of a model of nursing care that both screens and treats postpartum depression.

Results: The majority "strongly agreed" or "agreed" with the statement "having nurses screen for depression using a brief screening tool is a good idea." Most (67.1%) chose the Ob-Gyn Clinic as the appropriate site for such screening. Regarding treatment by nurses, the vast majority of nurses (93.7%) "agreed" or "strongly agreed" with the statement "nurse-delivered counseling with mildly depressed women is a good idea." Almost one half of the nurses already regularly provided some form of counseling, and approximately three quarters were willing to participate in a counseling skills training program. Less than 1.0% (n = 3) indicated that nurse-delivered counseling should not be implemented. The most frequently chosen setting for a nurse-delivered counseling program was home visits (70.6%, n = 367).

Clinical implications: Our results indicate nurse-delivered screening and treatment of postpartum women is overwhelmingly supported by this segment of U.S. nursing professionals, and indeed, is already occurring in many instances. Nurses who have frequent contact with women during the perinatal period are well positioned to provide screening and treatment for postpartum depression. To implement the two-part U.K. model (both screening and treatment), it is necessary to develop educational programs for staff and patients, and establish screening and treatment protocols as well as referral resources for those with such a need.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Counseling / organization & administration*
  • Depression, Postpartum* / diagnosis
  • Depression, Postpartum* / nursing
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • House Calls
  • Humans
  • Iowa
  • Mass Screening / organization & administration*
  • Maternal-Child Nursing / education
  • Maternal-Child Nursing / organization & administration
  • Models, Nursing
  • Nurse's Role / psychology*
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Nursing Staff / education
  • Nursing Staff / organization & administration
  • Nursing Staff / psychology*
  • Postnatal Care / organization & administration
  • Practice Patterns, Nurses' / organization & administration
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires