Longitudinal analysis of perinatal psychosocial risk, mental health, morbidity, service utilisation and maternal outcomes

One in five Australian mothers experience mental health problems within the first year after birth.  Yet many are not diagnosed nor treated, greatly increasing their risk, and that of their children, for  poor outcomes.  There are effective interventions to minimise mental health morbidities, but little is known about why some women use services and others do not.  To identify those at risk and offer services, universal psychosocial assessment in pregnancy and the year after birth is recommended in national guidelines and mandated in NSW policy.  However, the impact of such policy on maternal outcomes is not yet known and it is vital that evidence be generated for this practice.  The aim of this study is to prospectively examine the relationship between perinatal psychosocial risk assessment including depression screening, the factors influencing women's use of services and maternal health and quality of life at 12 months.

The study involves a prospective longitudinal design with repeated measures that will follow women (and their partners) from pregnancy to 12 months postpartum.  A pilot study has been completed and has resulted in a number of publications.


Research Team

Professor Virginia Schmied, Western Sydney University

Associate Professor Stephen Matthey, Sydney Local Health District

Professor Maree Johnson, Western Sydney University/South Western Sydney Local Health District

Professor Marie-Paule Austin, University of New South Wales

Associate Professor Lyn Kemp, University of New South Wales

Dr Anthony Yeo, Western Sydney University

Associate Investigator: Dr Cindy-Lee Dennis


Western Sydney University

University of New South Wales

University of Sydney

South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD)

Centre for Health, Equity, Training, Research and Evaluation ( CHETRE)

 Liverpool Hospital

Royal Hospital for Women

Black Dog Institute

St John of God

Key Publications

Myors, K., Schmied, V., Johnson, M., Cleary, M. (2013). (in press).  Therapeutic interventions in perinatal and infant mental health services.  Issues in Mental Health Nursing. Accepted 4th December 2013.

Schmied, V., Johnson, M., Naidoo, N., Austin, MP, Matthew, SM., Kemp, L., Mills, A., Meade, T., Yeo, A.  (2013). A Maternal Mental Health in Australia and New Zealand: A review of longitudinal studies. (opens in a new window).  Women & Birth, 26(3), 167-178. 

Schmied, V., Johnson, M., Langdon, R., Austin, M-P, Matthey, S., Kemp, L.  (2013).  Outcome of routine psychosocial assessment:  A pilot study of the relationship between risk factors, service utilisation and outcomes in women at 6 weeks and 12 months after birth.  Women and Birth, 26, Supplement 1.

Johnson, M., Schmeid, V., Lupton, S., Austin, M-P., Matthey, S., Meade, T., Kemp, L., Yeo, A. (2012).  Measuring perinatal mental health.  Archives of Womens' Mental Health, 15: 375-386.  Accepted 8th July, 2012. DOI: 10.1007/s00737-012-0297-8.]

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