PURPOSE: This study was conducted to explore the perceptions of perinatal women and key maternal care health workers about perinatal depression and the health service needs required to inform development of a culturally sensitive and acceptable psychosocial intervention.
METHODS: This qualitative study used a descriptive exploratory design; it is the first phase of a larger mixed methods study aimed at adapting a psychosocial intervention for perinatal depression. We conducted in-depth interviews with 22 women who screened positive for depression using a locally validated Chichewa version of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale at antenatal and postnatal clinics in 1 rural and 1 urban health care setting in Lilongwe District, Malawi. We also conducted 10 key informant interviews with maternal care health workers. Informed consent was obtained from all participants. An interview guide was used to guide enquiry about perceptions of perinatal depression and health service needs. Interviews were transcribed, translated and analysed using content analysis approach.
RESULTS: Perinatal depression was recognized as a common mental health problem that affected self-care activities and functioning of women in the perinatal period. Financial difficulties, relationship problems (polygamy, lack of support, neglect, and infidelity), traumatic events (intimate partner violence and loss) and fear of birth outcomes were identified as causes of depression. All study participants acknowledged the need for support and an intervention that will address the identified challenges. Additionally, they viewed strengthening the health delivery system as crucial to effectively address their needs and gaps identified in the system.
CONCLUSION: The results of this study support plans to develop a family focused intervention for perinatal depression in Malawi addressing relationship, psychosocial and economic issues. It also highlights the importance of strengthening the health delivery system especially at primary care level where the majority of women access care in Malawi and across Sub-Saharan Africa.
- Community Health Workers/psychology
- Delivery of Health Care/statistics & numerical data
- Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
- Middle Aged
- Pregnancy Complications/ethnology
- Pregnancy Outcome
- Qualitative Research
- Social Support
- Young Adult