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Health Care Professionals Approaches to Screening for Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Adolescents

24 June 2019


Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) are one of the most common complications of childbirth. While they impact up to 50% of adolescent mothers, PMADs are frequently underdiagnosed and undertreated. Left untreated, PMADs can lead to dysregulated maternal-child connections, maternal suicide, and altered cognitive development in children. Front-line Health Care Professionals are in a critically significant position to screen, and diagnose PMADs. However, there is a lack of research on their experiences and approaches to screening for PMADs. The purpose of this informed grounded theory study was to begin to understand current practices for screening for PMADs from participants who treat pregnant and parenting adolescents, and to understand participants’ experiences with PMADs in adolescents. Method included individual interviews with a purposeful sampling of eight front-line Health Care Professionals who have experience treating pregnant and parenting adolescences. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using open, axial, and selective order and iterative constant comparison. Three main themes emerged throughout the data:1) inconsistent practices for screening adolescents for PMADs, 2) barriers to screening, and 3) future recommendations. Within the core themes, 10 categories and 11 subcategories were revealed in the data. The data analyses demonstrated that Health Care Professionals do not asses risk factors for PMADs in adolescents in a structured and consistent manner. Participants explained professional, patient-specific, cultural, and systemic limitations in addressing PMADs in adolescents. Participants also identified recommendations and a call to action to address the significant gaps in providing appropriate screening to adolescents.


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