Midwifery care for women with recurrent mental illness. A qualitative study from the user's perspective
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Department of Applied Health Sciences, Midwifery Science, University of Health Sciences, Bochum, Bochum, Germany
Publication date: 2023-10-24
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Martina Schlüter-Cruse   

Department of Applied Health Sciences, Midwifery Science, University of Health Sciences, Bochum, Bochum, Germany
Eur J Midwifery 2023;7(Supplement 1):A140
Women of childbearing age are the largest population group affected by major depression in Germany. Accordingly, with a prevalence rate of 15-20%, mental illnesses are the most frequent complication during pregnancy and in the first year after childbirth. In particular, disease recurrences increase significantly in women with mental illness in the peripartum period. This group of women in particular is more stressed by life changes than psychologically healthy women. Often, recurrent mental illness is accompanied by other stress factors, such as poverty or single parent status. Not only the mothers, but also their children suffer from the illness - 50 percent of them also become mentally ill in the course of their lives, also because the bond between mother and child is made more difficult by the illness. In addition to medical support, psychosocial care by midwives is central to a successful peripartum period for the vulnerable target group. Midwives usually have a trusting relationship with the woman. In addition to midwifery support, midwives promote bonding between parents and child and refer to other professional groups as needed. For midwives, working with women with mental illness is often considered challenging. The project will examine the experiences of women with pre-existing mental illnesses with midwifery care during the peripartum period. Of particular interest are the specific needs of women with mental illness for midwifery care. From the user's perspective, factors that increase the quality of care for this vulnerable group should be made visible. There is hardly any research on the needs of this target group, which could also be taught and increase the quality of care in midwifery. The study results should strengthen this aspect of care in midwifery education. The results will be incorporated into teaching in the form of a recommendation (which will also be further developed).

Material and Methods:
The study design corresponds to a retrospective qualitative survey of women by means of problem-centered individual interviews according to Witzel. Guided interviews will be conducted with 10-12 mothers who were diagnosed with a mental illness and treated by a doctor before pregnancy. The women will be contacted via medical practices, psychologists and mother-child institutions in North Rhine-Westphalia. Included are mothers whose last birth was 6-12 months ago. The data analysis is based on Mayring's content analysis. The results will be discussed in a multiprofessional expert group.

This project sheds light on the professional actions of midwives in caring for women with mental illness. It is expected that midwives will be sensitized to the topic and learn about possible solutions to the challenges of care - also through the recommendations of the project. Furthermore, it is expected that the key function of midwives as mediators of women to further help will be strengthened through teaching. This, too, is expected to improve the quality of care to meet women's needs.

University programs are encouraged to incorporate new research findings on the topic of care for women with mental illness into their teaching and to develop appropriate services.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
Supported by university-owned funds for research projects of the HS Gesundheit Bochum within the framework of internal project funding.
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