Postpartum depression : a comparison of military and civilian populations

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Nursing


After careful review of the literature, a gap exists regarding the prevalence of postpartum depression in the military population compared with the civilian population. It is currently estimated that postpartum depression affects 13% of the childbearing population and over 50% of cases go unnoticed. The purpose of this study was to determine if a higher prevalence of postpartum depression exists in women married to active duty military members compared with women married to members of the general population in rural northwestern Montana. A sample population of 27 women from rural northwestern Montana completed the Postpartum Depression Screening Scale (PDSS) and their results were compared with those from a comparative population of 54 women married to active duty military members from southern Georgia. The PDSS short form was used and consists of seven questions with a Likert type scoring. The possible scores ranged from seven to 35 and a score of greater than 14 indicated that the woman had symptoms of depression. Data were analyzed and the average score and the prevalence rate were determined for each population. The average score for the civilian population was 16.85 with a prevalence rate of 62.96% compared with the military population's average score of 13.7 and prevalence rate of 50%. Demographic data was also collected and analyzed. The prevalence rate for the civilian population from rural northwestern Montana was greater than for the population of women married to active duty military members. Both populations had a greater than average prevalence rate. Possible limitations to the study include a small sample size, the data were collected from different time periods and different geographic areas, economic instability was increasing for the sampling of rural women, rural women were screened in the winter months, and there is limited research regarding the rural woman and postpartum depression.




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