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Health practitioners’ recognition and management of postpartum obsessive-compulsive thoughts of infant harm

Mulcahy, M., Rees, C., Galbally, M.ORCID: 0000-0003-3909-1918 and Anderson, R. (2020) Health practitioners’ recognition and management of postpartum obsessive-compulsive thoughts of infant harm. Archives of Women's Mental Health, 23 . pp. 719-726.

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The postpartum period has been associated with elevated rates of onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) among women, with a prevalence of 2–9%. Postpartum OCD is often characterized by recurrent, unwanted, and highly distressing thoughts, images, or impulses of deliberate infant harm. This study investigated health practitioners’ recognition of, and clinical management strategies for, postpartum obsessive-compulsive symptoms (OCS). Ninety-four perinatal health practitioners from a range of disciplines and professional backgrounds completed a survey comprised of a hypothetical case vignette and questions eliciting their responses to a clinical presentation of postpartum infant harming obsessions. Almost 70% of participants did not accurately identify OCS within the case. Furthermore, the majority of practitioners endorsed at least one contraindicated clinical management strategy likely to aggravate postpartum OCS. Accurate recognition of OCS was associated with the selection of fewer contraindicated strategies. Some aspects of practitioner training and experience were associated with correct OCS identification. These findings underscore the need for targeted, interdisciplinary education to improve the detection and management of women experiencing postpartum OCS.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Publisher: Springer Nature
Copyright: © Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2020
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