Abstract: Effectiveness of a Support Group for Perinatal Depression Among Latinas: A Mixed Methods Approach (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

Effectiveness of a Support Group for Perinatal Depression Among Latinas: A Mixed Methods Approach

Sunday, January 20, 2019: 12:00 PM
Continental Parlor 8, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Anne Farina, MSW, PhD Student, Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, MO
Tatiana Otalora, MSW, PhD Student, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Background: Latinas are disproportionately experiencing mental health issues and particularly vulnerable to develop symptoms and diagnoses of postpartum depression (Hatzenbuehler et al., 2017; Yonkers 2001). Due to structural and cultural factors, Latinas are less likely to initiate postnatal mental health care, and those that seek services are less likely to receive follow-up treatment, as compared to other racial and ethnic groups (Callister, Beckstrand, & Corbett, 2011; Kozhimanhil et al., 2013). Untreated postpartum depression can lead to deterioration in the maternal quality of life, ability to function, and can negatively impact an infants’ cognitive, social, and emotional development (Cogill et al., 1996; McKee et al., 2001). Recently, researchers have found links between social support, self-care, and postpartum depression outcomes in low-income Latinas (Kim & Dee, 2016). Despite the the gains in knowledge, there continues to be little research evaluating mental health programs that specifically target postpartum depression in Latinas. Thus, the aim of this mixed methods study was to examine the effectiveness of a support group designed to decrease postpartum depression among Latinas.

Method: A total of 29 perinatal Latinas attended support group sessions at a community-based social service agency in a Midwest metropolitan city. Participants completed a baseline standardized measure for depression (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EDPS), Spanish version (α = .84;Cox, Holden, Y Sagovsky, 1987; Hartley et al., 2014)), the same measure throughout their participation, and again at the conclusion of their participation. Paired t-tests were used to compare the pre-and post-intervention data. Participants were asked to complete an informal, semi-structured, open-ended interview about their participation in the support group. Responses were recorded, transcribed, coded, and analyzed using a cross comparative approach (Miles & Huberman, 1994). Codes were compared within and across participants and developed into categories and themes. An explanatory sequential design was utilized to merge the data in a joint display model using EPDS scores and themes that emerged from the interviews. Participant EPDS scores were combined with interview responses related to opinions about other factors potentially impacting depressive symptoms.

Results: The average length of time women attended the support group was 18 weeks. The participants reported significant decreases in depressive symptoms, t(29) = 2.23, p = .034. Emerging themes from participant interviews related to the support group included support from other participants and staff, understanding the importance of self-care, knowledge obtained from the support groups related to parenting, and coping skills. Themes from the interviews also emerged related to factors that impacted depressive scores such as environmental stressors, feelings of isolation, and lack of support systems.

Discussion: This support group intervention shows potential in decreasing depressive symptoms among perinatal Latinas. Randomized, controlled trials are suggested to test the efficacy of this intervention further. Considering that Latinas in the United States have the highest birth rates and play a crucial role in the nation’s overall population growth (Krogstad, 2017) it is essential that research focus its efforts towards finding, developing and evaluating treatment and prevention strategies for this population. Further research and practice implications are discussed.