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Supportive counselling by public health nurses for women with postpartum depression


K. Glavin:


glavin k., smith l., sørum r. & ellefsen b. (2010) Supportive counselling by public health nurses for women with postpartum depression. Journal of Advanced Nursing66(6), 1317–1327.


Title. Supportive counselling by public health nurses for women with postpartum depression.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study examining the effect of supportive counselling by public health nurses on postpartum depression.

Background.  Depression is a common condition following childbirth and may have negative consequences for the child’s development, the woman’s health and the relationship between the parents. Psychological intervention is a treatment alternative to biological treatment options and may prevent longer-term postpartum depression.

Method.  The study was designed as a pragmatic trial. The study population comprised postpartum women, residing in two Norwegian municipalities, who had delivered a live-born child between June 2005 and December 2006. A total of 228 women were included in the study: 64 in the comparison municipality and 164 in the experimental municipality. Public health nurses (26) in the experimental municipality were trained in identifying postpartum depression and in providing supportive counselling. Pre-tests were conducted using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale at 6 weeks postpartum. Post-tests using the same Scale were performed at 3 and 6 months postpartum.

Results.  The depression score decreased statistically significantly in the experimental group compared to the comparison group both at 3 and 6 months postpartum.

Conclusion.  Supportive counselling based on a non-directive counselling method provided by public health nurses is an effective treatment method for postpartum depression. Further research is required to assess the mothers’ evaluation of the treatment and appraise methods used for management of postpartum depression in primary health care.

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