Many women suffer from mental ill health during pregnancy and/or after the birth of their baby. Unfortunately, our understanding of how these problems develop, and how they can best be prevented or treated are currently limited. Routinely collected data has great research potential in this area, however, there are considerable challenges. For example, some women might not want to disclose their mental ill health, and some data systems might not capture the information in a way that is usable for research. That means that we can’t rely on the data collected to provide a full picture of women’s experiences.
This grant funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC): Mental Health Data Pathfinder programme will allow us to get an in-depth understanding and interpret the existing data better. We will do this by:
- Identifying the processes and pathways used by health professionals to identify and treat mental ill health. It will also identify data sources for CMDs and SMIs and issues surrounding data capture that require further exploration.
- A review of the literature to identify the healthcare and human factors that could influence the recording of mental ill health data in electronic medical records in order to categorise the factors that might need to be considered when decontextualized electronic medical records data are analysed.
- Interviews with women and health professionals to explore the barriers and enablers to identifying perinatal mental ill health, and capturing this information on the relevant routine data systems.
- We will then develop methods to deal with the missingness in data to allow us to analyse the data in a more meaningful way. At the same time we will develop recommendations to health services and data system developers based on our findings so that they can improve their services and enhance identification and capture of mental ill health.