Perspectives on addressing bipolar disorder in the obstetric setting

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2022 Jul-Aug:77:130-140. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2022.05.009. Epub 2022 May 25.


Objective: Perinatal Psychiatry Access Programs have emerged to help obstetric professionals meet the needs of perinatal individuals with mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder (BD). We elucidate obstetric professionals' perspectives on barriers and facilitators to managing BD in perinatal patients, and how Access Programs may affect these processes.

Methods: We conducted three focus groups with obstetric professionals, two with- and one without-exposure to an Access Program, the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Program (MCPAP) for Moms. Focus groups discussed experiences, barriers, facilitators, and solutions to caring for perinatal individuals with BD. Qualitative data were coded and analyzed by two independent coders; emergent themes were examined across exposure groups.

Results: Thirty-one obstetric professionals (7 without-exposure, 24 with-exposure) participated. Identified themes included: (1) gaps in perinatal BD education; (2) challenges in patient assessment; (3) MCPAP for Moms as a facilitator for addressing BD; and (4) importance of continued outreach and destigmaization to increase care collaboration.

Conclusions: Barriers to obstetric professionals accessing adequate mental healthcare for their patients with BD abound. With psychiatric supports in place, it is possible to build obstetric professionals' capacity to address BD. Perinatal Psychiatry Access Programs can facilitate obstetric professionals bridging these gaps in mental health care.

Keywords: Bipolar disorder; Collaborative care; Mental health services; Perinatal; Postpartum; Pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bipolar Disorder* / therapy
  • Child
  • Child Psychiatry*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Massachusetts
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications* / psychology
  • Qualitative Research