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Racial and ethnic disparities in postpartum depression care among low-income women (USA)

July 14, 2011

A recent study by the American Psychiatric Association found that there are significant racial-ethnic differences in depression-related mental health care for women after child delivery. In the study, all low-income women were found to have sub-optimal treatment as they were less likely to initiate and/or continue postpartum depression care. There were also racial and ethnic disparities among West Asian and Latin American women.

This retrospective cohort study examined 29,601 administrative insurance claims from New Jersey’s Medicaid program (13,001 white women, 13,416 West Asian, and 3,184 Latin American women). Insurance claims were from women who delivered babies between July 2004 and October 2007.

The probability of West Asian or Latin American women seeking treatment after delivery was significantly lower compared to white women. When West Asian or Latin American women sought treatment, they were less likely than white women to receive follow-up treatment or continued care. If antidepressant treatment was initiated, West Asian or Latin American women were less likely than whites to refill a prescription. This study points out the need for further work in the clinical and policy fields.

To find out more on this study, see “Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Postpartum Depression Care Among Low-Income Women”, June 2011, available at psychservices.psychiatryonline.org.

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