Do Specialist Community Public Health Nurses Assess Risk Factors for Depression, Suicide, and Self-Harm Among South Asian Mothers Living in London?


  • Sharin Baldwin,

    1. M.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons.), R.H.V., R.M., R.N., Enhanced Modern Matron (Health Visiting & School Nursing), City & Hackney Teaching Primary Care Trust, London, UK.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Peter Griffiths

    1. Ph.D., B.A., R.N., F.H.E.A., F.E.A.N.S., is Director, National Nursing Research Unit, Executive Editor International Journal of Nursing Studies, King's College, London, UK.
    Search for more papers by this author

Sharin Baldwin. E-mail:


ABSTRACT Evidence indicates that suicide rates are higher in South Asian women in the United Kingdom compared with other ethnic groups, suggesting increased vulnerability to attempted suicide and mental distress in these women. Specialist Community Public Health Nurses (SCPHNs, including health visitors) are in an ideal position to assess such risk. The objectives are to determine whether SCPHNs assess known risk factors for depression, self-harm, and suicide during initial contact with South Asian mothers in London; the extent to which these risk factors are documented in the nursing records; and whether their assessments of South Asian women differ from those of other ethnic groups. Structured content analysis of semistructured interviews with 8 SCPHNs and analysis of 60 matched pairs of SCPHN records were carried out in an inner London community. The results revealed that SCPHNs assessed general risk factors for postnatal depression and some culture-specific factors when assessing South Asian mothers. Documentation of risk factors was under-represented in the SCPHN records and there was a significant difference between the documented risk factors for South Asian women and women from other ethnic groups. While SCPHNs understood some aspects of South Asian culture, service improvements must be made to ensure better care provision.