Partner Involvement: Negotiating The Presence Of Partners In Psychosocial Assessment As Conducted By Midwives And Child And Family Health Nurses

John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Infant Mental Health Journal, 2016, 37 (3), pp. 302 - 312
Issue Date:
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Universal screening for maternal depression and assessment of psychosocial risks has been integrated into the routine perinatal care provided in many Australian hospitals, but to date, partners/fathers have been largely excluded from the process. This study explored the ways in which clinicians in health service settings include partners who attend antenatal and postnatal visits with women. Qualitative data were collected using observations (n = 54), interviews (n = 60), and discussion groups (n = 7) with midwives and child and family health nurses who conducted the appointments. Transcripts from observations, interviews, and discussion groups underwent qualitative analysis, and key themes were identified. Results showed partners to have little or no involvement in psychosocial assessment and depression screening. Thematic analysis revealed four key themes: negotiating partner exclusion, partial inclusion, women's business or a couple concern? and they know anyway. Partner involvement appeared to be challenged particularly by mandatory interpersonal violence screening, which, according to health service policy, is to be conducted confidentially. Overall, results highlighted partner involvement in perinatal depression screening and psychosocial assessment processes and identified some of the benefits such as partner disclosure, but also the challenges and complexities of inclusion of partners. Clinical implications and directions for further education and research are discussed.
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