Social Workers’ Screening Practices for Postpartum Depression
Keywords:Social work practice, postpartum depression, maternal and child health, assessment and evaluation
The Affordable Care Act specifies mothers living with postpartum depression (PPD) are a group in need of services. Although mothers with PPD prefer to receive services from social workers than from professionals from other disciplines, limited research has addressed where social workers learn how to screen for PPD, the instruments they use, in what contexts they screen, and at what point during the perinatal period they screen mothers. The authors used an online survey to study a national sample of perinatal social workers (n=261) on their screening practices of mothers with PPD. More than half (n=149, 57.1%) of the respondents indicated they neither learned how to screen nor how to diagnose PPD during their undergraduate or graduate school education. Despite the availability of easy-to-use PPD screening instruments, only 25% (n=66) of the respondents indicated they have used any screening instruments. Of added concern is that many of the respondents indicated they do not consult the professional literature on PPD from social work and other disciplines to guide them in their practice. We recommend social workers integrate relevant findings from evidence-based research about PPD into their practice as appropriate, and that BSW and MSW curricula incorporate relevant information on PPD into their programs.
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