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Keywords:

  • immigrant and refugee women;
  • mental health care;
  • post-partum depression

Accessible summary

  • • 
    This literature review on post-partum depression (PPD) presents an analysis of the literature about PPD and the positive and negative factors, which may influence immigrant and refugee women's health seeking behaviour and decision making about post-partum care.
  • • 
    A critical review of English language peer-reviewed publications from 1988 to 2008 was done by the researchers as part of a qualitative research study conducted in a western province of Canada. The overall goal of the study is to raise awareness and understanding of what would be helpful in meeting the mental health needs of the immigrant and refugee women during the post-partum period.
  • • 
    Several online databases were searched: Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), PsycINFO, MEDLINE (Ovid), EBM Reviews – Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
  • • 
    Review of the literature suggests:
    • 1
      Needs, issues and specific risk factors for PPD among immigrant and refugee women have been limited.
    • 2
      Descriptive accounts regarding culture and PPD are found in the literature but impact of cultural factors upon PPD has not been well studied.
    • 3
      Few studies look at how social support, gender, and larger institutions or organizational structures may affect immigrant and refugee women's help-seeking and access to mental health care services.
    • 4
      More research is needed to hear the immigrant and refugee women's ideas about their social support needs, the difficulties they experience and their preferred ways of getting help with PPD.

Abstract

This review and analysis of the literature is about the phenomenon of post-partum depression (PPD) and the barriers and facilitators, which may influence immigrant and refugee women's health seeking behaviour and decision making about post-partum care. As part of a qualitative research study conducted in a western province of Canada a critical review of English language peer-reviewed publications from 1988 to 2008 was undertaken by the researchers. The overall goal of the study is to raise awareness and understanding of what would be helpful in meeting the mental health needs of the immigrant and refugee women during the post-partum period. Several online databases were searched: Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), PsycINFO, MEDLINE (Ovid), EBM Reviews – Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Findings suggest: (1) needs, issues and specific risk factors for PPD among immigrant and refugee women have been limited; (2) descriptive accounts regarding culture and PPD are found in the literature but impact of cultural factors upon PPD has not been well investigated; (3) few studies examine how social support, gender, institutional and organizational structures present barriers to the women's health seeking behaviour; and (4) additional research is required to evaluate immigrant and refugee women's perspectives about their social support needs, the barriers they experience and their preferred support interventions.