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Reducing the Risk of Postpartum Depression in a Low-Income Community Through a Community Health Worker Intervention

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Objectives To clarify the effectiveness of perinatal social support interventions in reducing postpartum depression among minority, low-income women. Methods The Transdisciplinary Research Consortium for Gulf Resilience on Women’s Health supported a community-based participatory research project to improve perinatal health among low-income, first-time pregnant women living in a vulnerable Gulf Coast region. Community health workers (CHWs) were partnered with recruited women, and used a mix of mobile technology and home visits to develop a supportive relationship during the perinatal period. Results Women enrolled in the CHW-led intervention had lower (F: 2.38, p = 0.04) average postpartum depression scores (EPDS) 6 months postpartum than a comparison population. The difference, however, was not seen among women in the intervention group who reported relatively poor relationships with their CHWs. Conclusions for Practice Results reinforce the evidence that perinatal social support can affect postpartum depression outcomes. CHWs are increasingly utilized by public programs to reach at-risk populations. We discuss the potential efficacy of CHW programs, but also, the need to pair outreach with effective monitoring and evaluation of the relationship development between CHW and clients.

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This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health under Grant number 5U19ES020677. This study would have not been possible without the tireless and dedicated work of our community health workers (Starleen Maharaj-Lewis, Christine Dennis, Onita Harris, Courtney Schultheis, Patricia Davis, and Kimisha Sawyer). We would also like to thank Farah Arosemena and Dr. Hannah Covert, for their guidance and expertise during the design and implementation of the study.

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Correspondence to Christopher Mundorf.

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Mundorf, C., Shankar, A., Moran, T. et al. Reducing the Risk of Postpartum Depression in a Low-Income Community Through a Community Health Worker Intervention. Matern Child Health J 22, 520–528 (2018).

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