Social support and online postpartum depression discussion groups: a content analysis

Patient Educ Couns. 2012 Jun;87(3):405-10. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2011.09.011. Epub 2011 Oct 20.


Objective: Social support has a positive influence on women's childbearing experience and is shown to be a preventive factor in postpartum depression. This study examined the perceived value and types of social supports that characterize the discussions of women who participate in postpartum depression online discussion groups.

Methods: A directed content analysis was used to examine 512 messages posted on a postpartum depression online support group over six months.

Results: The majority of the women's postings illustrated emotional support followed by informational and instrumental support.

Conclusions: Online support groups provide women experiencing postpartum depression a safe place to connect with others and receive information, encouragement and hope.

Practice implications: Education strategies are needed to address the many questions regarding PPD medical treatment. Recommending vetted links to PPD online support groups will create opportunities for women to share their experiences and obtain support.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Communication*
  • Depression, Postpartum / prevention & control
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology*
  • Empathy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers / psychology
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self-Help Groups*
  • Social Support*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Writing
  • Young Adult