Nearly two-thirds of mothers with depression do not receive adequate care for their condition

Research Activities, April 2010, No. 356

A new study finds that about 65 percent of mothers who suffer from depression do not receive adequate treatment for their condition. In other words, they do not receive the care necessary to reduce or eliminate depression symptoms so they are able to function at work and home with little chance for relapse. Of the 2,130 mothers in the study, 9.5 percent reported experiencing depression. Of these women, 37.9 percent did not receive any treatment, 27.3 percent received some treatment, and just 34.8 percent received adequate treatment for depression.

Mothers who received adequate treatment were more likely to be 35 years or older, white, or have completed some college. Further, they were less likely to be in the paid workforce. The authors suggest that spending long hours on the job may prevent working mothers from being able to access health care. They recommend that employers better promote counseling services such as their Employee Assistance Programs so that working mothers suffering from depression are aware that these programs are available to help them with their symptoms. More than 80 percent of mothers who did not receive any treatment for their depression reported having insurance. The authors suggest that while having insurance is an important factor for receiving care, having it does not necessarily lead to receiving care for depression.

The study also found that black mothers were nearly 80 percent less likely to receive adequate treatment for depression than white mothers. In fact, all minority mothers were less likely to receive adequate care for depression than white mothers. The authors suggest studies of this disparity focus on the possible roles that racial bias and patient-provider communication may play as barriers to depression treatment. The University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers used Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) for this study, which was funded in part by AHRQ (T32 HS00063 and T32 HS00083).

See "Access to adequate outpatient depression care for mothers in the USA: A nationally representative population-based study," by Whitney P. Witt, Ph.D., M.P.H., Abiola Keller, M.P.A.S., P.A.-C., Carissa Gottlieb, M.S., and others in the October 17, 2009, online Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research.

Current as of April 2010
Internet Citation: Nearly two-thirds of mothers with depression do not receive adequate care for their condition: Research Activities, April 2010, No. 356. April 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/apr10/0410RA12.html