Implementation of Pediatric Mental Health Calls During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Postnatal Depression Findings Among Mothers




Desai, Sarina
Bui, Priya
Garcia, Joanna


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Purpose: During the COVID-19 pandemic, starting in March 2020 the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) Pediatrics Clinic had to limit in-person visits. With concern for the health of patients during this time, the Pediatric Mental Health Calls (PMHC) was created to provide support to patients at the UNTHSC Pediatrics Clinic and their caregivers. Methods: UNTHSC Pediatrics Clinic patient information was uploaded onto a database called REDcap. Medical and Physician Assistant (PA) student volunteers were trained to use call scripts to standardize phone conversations. An Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) was administered during calls to assess maternal mental health. Mothers with EPDS scores ≥ 12 were referred for risk of postnatal depression. Data collected from patients ranging from 2 to 6 months of age was analyzed and included demographic information and information about maternal mental health from the EPDS. Analysis used Chi-squared test of independence. Significance was set at p< 0.05. Results: The percentage of mothers with elevated EPDS scores was higher among Black or African American mothers compared to White mothers, showing a statistically significant relationship. Mothers who were working and had the father or a grandparent as the primary caretaker during the workday exhibited a higher percentage of elevated EPDS scores (42.86% father caretaker, 29.41% grandparent caretaker) compared to mothers not working (25.92%). Additionally, mothers with older infants had a higher percentage of elevated EPDS scores (5.08% at 2 months to 18.75% at 6 months). Conclusion: The PMHC program should be continued after the pandemic as an accessible and convenient means for maternal mental health evaluation and referral to resources. Future implementation should be modified to include mothers of infants of increased age ranges and culturally sensitive treatment models to improve racial disparities in postnatal depression.


Research Appreciation Day Award Winner - 2022 Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, 2022 HSC Health Care Delivery Award - 1st Place