Stepped Care Treatment of Postpartum Depression. A Primary Care-Based Management Model

Dwenda Gjerdingen, Wayne Katon, Deborah E. Rich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose: Postpartum depression (PPD), the most prevalent serious postpartum complication, is a devastating illness that negatively impacts not only the mother, but also her infant, other family members, and work performance. There is an extensive body of research addressing systems-based quality improvement efforts for treatment of depression in primary care populations; however, little of this research has been directed toward postpartum populations. This paper presents a health care systems-based quality improvement model for the treatment of PPD derived from research outcomes in general primary care populations. Methods: OVID/MEDLINE and PsychINFO searches were performed using the following terms: depression, postpartum depression, mass screening, collaborative care, stepped care, psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and education as keywords. Main Findings: The PPD management model described herein includes screening and diagnosis, initiation of active treatment, and use of collaborative care, which includes primary care visits, case manager follow-up, and more intensive care, through specialty consultation or referral, for complicated or difficult cases. Conclusion: Stepped care, a form of collaborative depression treatment, is proposed as a practical, cost-effective method for improving PPD diagnosis and clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-52
Number of pages9
JournalWomen's Health Issues
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008


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