How does gender influence immigrant and refugee women's postpartum depression help-seeking experiences?

Authors

  • J. M. O'Mahony RN PhD,

    Researcher, Faculty of Nursing, Corresponding author
    • Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
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  • T. T. Donnelly RN PhD

    Associate Professor, Corresponding author
    • Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
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Correspondence:

J. M. O'Mahony

Faculty of Nursing

University of Calgary

Calgary, AB

Canada

E-mail: jmomahon@ucalgary.ca

and

T. T. Donnelly

Faculty of Nursing and Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine

University of Calgary

2500 University Drive NW

Calgary, AB

Canada T2N 1N4

E-mail: tdonnell@ucalary.ca

Abstract

Accessible summary

  • Evidence shows immigrant and refugee women experience difficulties in accessing care and treatment for postpartum depression.
  • Thirty in-depth interviews were carried out to obtain information about the immigrant and refugee women's postpartum depression experiences.
  • Main purpose was to explore how broader background factors influence the ways in which these women seek help to manage postpartum depression.
  • Results show immigrant and refugee women experience many complex gender-related problems. Poverty, immigration status, discrimination, and poor spousal relationships and support can all directly affect a woman's access to healthcare services. Emotional and economic dependence may leave women vulnerable in protecting themselves against postpartum depression.
  • Additional research is needed to further our understanding about immigrant and refugee women's postpartum health, their social support needs, the barriers they experience and their treatment preferences.

Abstract

The number of migrants arriving in Canada from non-European countries has grown significantly over the past three decades. How best to assist these escalating numbers of immigrant and refugee women to adapt to their new environment and to cope with postpartum depression (PPD) is a pressing issue for healthcare providers. Evidence has shown that immigrant and refugee women experience difficulties in accessing care and treatment for PPD. This qualitative study was conducted with 30 immigrant and refugee women using in-depth interviews to obtain information about the women's PPD experiences. The primary aim was to explore how cultural, social, political, historical and economic factors intersect with race, gender and class to influence the ways in which immigrant and refugee women seek help to manage PPD. Results reveal that immigrant and refugee women experience many complex gender-related challenges and facilitators in seeking equitable help for PPD treatment and prevention. We will demonstrate that (a) structural barriers and gender roles hinder women's ability to access necessary mental healthcare services and (b) insecure immigration status coupled with emotional and economic dependence may leave women vulnerable and disadvantaged in protecting themselves against PPD.

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