A focus on finding the best way to identify at-risk women

A range of research projects focused on understanding the best ways to screen women at-risk of developing mental health issues during pregnancy and into early parenthood will be presented at the upcoming biennual Australasian Marcé Society for Perinatal Mental Health Conference.

St John of God Health Care perinatal mental health

7 October 2019 

University of Newcastle perinatal mental health researcher Dr Nicole Reilly will present preliminary findings from a range of research projects into perinatal mental health care, including those linked to St John of God Burwood Hospital’s Perinatal and Women’s Mental Health Unit, at the upcoming event.

The conference, which is sponsored by St John of God Raphael Services, aims to increase the understanding, prevention and treatment of mental illness related to childbearing among clinicians and the wider community.

Dr Reilly, who collaborates closely with St John of God Health Care Chair of Perinatal and Women’s Mental Health Professor Marie-Paule Austin, will discuss some of their current research projects, including:

  • A large scale trial that is comparing the clinical and cost-effectiveness of two models of integrated psychosocial care during pregnancy. The preliminary, unpublished findings of this study show that both models of care perform well in identifying at-risk women, but the alternative PIPA model, which features the Antenatal Risk Questionnaire, a computer-based clinical decision-aid and tailored messages to guide clinicians to appropriate support options, performs better at ruling out lower risk women and was cost saving.
  • A study comparing the test performance of anxiety screening measures using gold standard methodology. This study aims to find the most appropriate anxiety screening tool to use during pregnancy and the postpartum in Australian populations.
  • A research project focused on validating a revised version of the Antenatal Risk Questionnaire which includes two new questions relating to substance use and interpersonal violence.

“It is now well understood that the perinatal period, from pregnancy to early parenting, is significant time for women’s mental health,” Dr Reilly said.

“What this research is focused on is supporting clinicians in identifying at-risk women using the most effective approaches available.

“Really, it’s about working together to help clinicians identify women and families who would benefit from additional support early, so they can provide this help when it’s needed most."

A number of researchers from St John of God Raphael Services will also be presenting at the Marce conference.