Access to Adequate Outpatient Depression Care for Mothers in the USA: A Nationally Representative Population-Based Study

  • Whitney P. Witt
  • Abiola Keller
  • Carissa Gottlieb
  • Kristin Litzelman
  • John Hampton
  • Jonathan Maguire
  • Erika W. Hagen


Maternal depression is often untreated, resulting in serious consequences for mothers and their children. Factors associated with receipt of adequate treatment for depression were examined in a population-based sample of 2,130 mothers in the USA with depression using data from the 1996–2005 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Chi-squared analyses were used to evaluate differences in sociodemographic and health characteristics by maternal depression treatment status (none, some, and adequate). Multivariate regression was used to model the odds of receiving some or adequate treatment, compared to none. Results indicated that only 34.8% of mothers in the USA with depression received adequate treatment. Mothers not in the paid workforce and those with health insurance were more likely to receive treatment, while minority mothers and those with less education were less likely to receive treatment. Understanding disparities in receipt of adequate treatment is critical to designing effective interventions, reducing treatment inequities, and ultimately improving the mental health and health of mothers and their families.


maternal depression access to treatment for depression adequacy of treatment for depression disparities in treatment for depression population-based study Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) 



This research was supported in part by grants from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (T32 HS00063 to the Harvard Pediatric Health Services Research Fellowship Program (W.P. Witt); T32 HS00083 Pre-doctoral NRSA Training Grant (A. Keller)), the National Institutes of Health (T32 HD049302 (E.W. Hagen)), and a Young Investigators Award from the Ambulatory Pediatrics Association (to W.P. Witt). We would also like to acknowledge the contribution of Aimee Teo Broman, MA for her assistance with the statistical analyses for this paper.


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Copyright information

© National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Whitney P. Witt
    • 1
  • Abiola Keller
    • 2
  • Carissa Gottlieb
    • 3
  • Kristin Litzelman
    • 4
  • John Hampton
    • 5
  • Jonathan Maguire
    • 6
  • Erika W. Hagen
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Population Health Sciences, School of Medicine and Public HealthUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Population Health Sciences, School of Medicine and Public HealthUniversity of Wisconsin—MadisonMadisonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Population Health Sciences, School of Medicine and Public HealthUniversity of Wisconsin—MadisonMadisonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Population Health Sciences, School of Medicine and Public HealthUniversity of Wisconsin—MadisonMadisonUSA
  5. 5.University of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  6. 6.HobokenUSA
  7. 7.Department of Population Health Sciences, School of Medicine and Public HealthUniversity of Wisconsin—MadisonMadisonUSA

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