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Postpartum depression and social support in a racially and ethnically diverse population of women

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Lack of social support is an important risk factor for postpartum depression (PPD), whereas the presence of social support can buffer against PPD. However, the relationship between social support and PPD in racial/ethnic minority women is still largely unknown. Our purpose was to examine the role of social support in a large, diverse population of PPD cases and controls. Participants (N = 1517) were recruited at the routine 6-week postpartum visit (± 1–2 weeks) from four different outpatient clinics in North Carolina. Case status was determined using the MINI International Neuropsychiatric Interview. Social support was measured using the Medical Outcomes Social (MOS) Support survey and the Baby’s Father Support Scale (DAD). We found that higher levels of social support had a strong protective association against PPD (MOS total score OR, 0.23; 95% CI, 0.19–0.27; p = 6.92E-90; DAD total score OR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.88–0.92; p = 1.69E-29), and the effects of social support did not differ when accounting for race/ethnicity. Additionally, PPD symptom severity is significantly and negatively correlated with the degree of social support. Our findings suggest that multi-dimensional aspects of social support may be protective for racial/ethnic minority women. We believe this study is currently the largest and most robust characterizing PPD case status and its association with social support in a diverse cohort of mothers. Future work is required to understand how best to implement culturally sensitive interventions to increase social support in minority perinatal women.

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This work was supported by the National Institutes of Mental Health (S.M.B. grant no. 5R01MH095992-04) (J.G. grant no. 4T32MH093315-05).

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Correspondence to Jerry Guintivano.

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Author S.M.B. has received research support from Sage Therapeutics and Janssen. The other authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Pao, C., Guintivano, J., Santos, H. et al. Postpartum depression and social support in a racially and ethnically diverse population of women. Arch Womens Ment Health 22, 105–114 (2019).

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