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Katon JG, Lewis L, Hercinovic S, McNab A, Fortney J, Rose SM. Improving Perinatal Mental Health Care for Women Veterans: Description of a Quality Improvement Program. Maternal and child health journal. 2017 Aug 1; 21(8):1598-1605.
Purpose We describe results from a quality improvement project undertaken to address perinatal mental healthcare for women veterans. Description This quality improvement project was conducted in a single VA healthcare system between 2012 and 2015 and included screening for depressive symptoms with the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) three times during the perinatal period, a dedicated maternity care coordinator (MCC), an on-site clinical social worker, and an on-site obstetrician/gynecologist (Ob/gyn). Information on prior mental health diagnosis was collected by the MCC or Ob/gyn. The prevalence of perinatal depressive symptoms and receipt of mental healthcare among those with such symptoms are reported by presence of a pre-pregnancy mental health diagnosis. Assessment Of the 199 women who used VA maternity benefits between 2012 and 2015, 56% (n? = 111) had at least one pre-pregnancy mental health diagnosis. Compared to those without a pre-pregnancy mental health diagnosis, those with such a diagnosis were more likely to be screened for perinatal depressive symptoms at least once (61.5% vs. 46.8%, p? = 0.04). Prevalence of depressive symptoms was 46.7% among those with a pre-pregnancy mental health diagnosis and 19.2% among those without. Among those with a pre-pregnancy mental health diagnosis and depressive symptoms (n? = 35), 88% received outpatient mental healthcare and 77% met with the clinical social worker. Among those without a pre-pregnancy mental health diagnosis and depressive symptoms (n? = 8), none received outpatient mental healthcare, but 77.8% met with the clinical social worker. Conclusion Improving perinatal mental healthcare for women veterans requires a multidisciplinary approach, including on-site integrated mental healthcare.