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Nebraska affiliate highlighting perinatal depression screenings.

With a goal of increasing the identification and screening of women with perinatal depression and raising mothers' awareness of pregnancy-related depression, the Public Health Association of Nebraska has teamed with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services in a unique program that combines public awareness with provider education.

The Nebraska Perinatal Depression Project, launched in June with a $216,000 grant from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, provides pregnancy-related depression resources to new and expectant mothers and their families, and interactive educational curricula to health care providers who want to increase their knowledge of perinatal depression screening, referral and treatment.

"We are very proud of this project," said Rita Parris, executive director of the Public Health Association of Nebraska. "Our ultimate hope is that perinatal depression can be identified quickly so that steps can be taken to prevent negative consequences."

The Nebraska Affiliate's Public Health Nursing Section coordinated the provider-education side of the campaign. The section worked with nine provider groups--including pediatricians, obstetricians, psychiatrists, registered nurses, certified nurse midwives and psychologists--to create an interactive, Web-based curriculum to train providers on perinatal depression screening, appropriate referral and treatment. Continuing education credits are available to physicians, nurses and licensed mental health providers who successfully complete the curriculum.

The curriculum is offered as part of a toolkit that contains a CD-based learning module, resource lists, brochures, posters and a tablet of screening tools based on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, a simple, 10-item questionnaire used to screen patients for postnatal depression. A provider-oriented Web site also is offered at

Many of the toolkits were distributed to providers at a statewide public health nursing conference last spring. Additional toolkits were mailed to providers at health departments across Nebraska.

"Sitting at the public health nursing conference, I noticed people were very impressed with the toolkits," Parris said. "I am just hoping that they are putting them to use."

For example, public health nurses in a clinic can distribute the brochures contained in the toolkit or hang the posters in locations where patients will see them. They might also insert the curriculum CD into their home computers, work through the self-study program and then log onto the Web site to take the test and possibly earn three continuing education credits.

Carol Isaac, MA, RN, who managed the provider-education effort for the Nebraska Affiliate, said the perinatal depression project represents Nebraska's first attempt to formally address perinatal depression among women in the state. The project is an important and timely one for the Affiliate's Public Health Nursing Section, Isaac noted, because interest in perinatal depression as a mental health issue is increasing.

Winning the contract from the state to create the project's provider-education curriculum continues nearly six consecutive years of the Nebraska Public Health Nursing Section's success in writing grants or proposals "and getting them funded to meet the needs of people across our state," Isaac said.

Project coordinators created the multifaceted, statewide program based on information gleaned through focus groups and family interviews conducted across Nebraska in 2006. For example, the majority of focus group participants said they had received a wealth of information about healthy babies from their health care providers, but very little information about their own emotional reactions to pregnancy or childbirth.

Most of the women said they referred to books, friends, family and the Internet for information about depression associated with being pregnant. The majority of the participants noted, however, that they attach a high level of credibility to information communicated to them by a health care professional.

For its part, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, which handled the public outreach side of the campaign, worked with a marketing firm in Lincoln, Neb., to create the campaign's tagline, "Reach Out and Discover a New Day," as well as brochures, posters, radio spots in English and Spanish, a Web site at and a telephone helpline at (800) 862-1889.

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Article Details
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Title Annotation:The AFFILIATES: State, regional public health associations
Author:Johnson, Teddi Dineley
Publication:The Nation's Health
Article Type:Disease/Disorder overview
Geographic Code:1U4NE
Date:Sep 1, 2007
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