The need to evaluate public health reforms: Australian perinatal mental health initiatives

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Journal Article
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 2012, 36 (3), pp. 208 - 211
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Objective: To describe the Australian perinatal mental health reforms and explore ways of improving surveillance of maternal mental health morbidity and mortality in this context. Approaches: We reviewed the Australian perinatal (defined as conception to one year postpartum) mental health reforms, in association with an appraisal of the population health methods that could be used for their evaluation. Conclusion: Despite the increasing focus of public health reforms on maternal mental health in the perinatal period, there is currently no national data available to evaluate these reforms or to provide an evidence base for improved health outcomes. National data development and linkage of relevant datasets would go a long way towards enabling such an endeavour. Implications: Inclusion of key mental health items in the Perinatal National Minimum Dataset and use of data linkage techniques will allow for monitoring of trends in maternal mental health morbidity and mortality in response to the Australian reforms. Once this is implemented, cost-benefit analyses can be undertaken. © 2012 Public Health Association of Australia.
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