Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Antenatal depression in ultra-orthodox communities

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

Some communities are harder to reach than others and few must be harder than the ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Israel as this study from  Israel by Glasser et al. (2016) titled: 'Rate, risk factors and assessment of a counselling intervention for antenatal depression by public health nurses in an Israeli ultra-orthodox community' and published in JAN shows.

The study aimed to: 'investigate the rate of and risk factors for perinatal depression in an Israeli ultra-orthodox Jewish community and assess the contribution of antenatal nursing intervention to reducing symptoms of postpartum depression'. As the authors explain: 'Among Jewish ultra-orthodox women both religion and childbearing play major roles'.  In a study of over 150 women, while rates of perinatal depression were similar to the general population when measured in the study, it was considered that rates of post-natal depression were underreported.

An interesting aspect of the study was that in those families where the husband was 'avrechim' - meaning that he did not work but pursued a life of religious study - the rates of depression were lower.  This was counter-intuitive as in these families the women carry the burden of housework and supporting the family financially.  Rates of depression were higher in families where the husband worked and earned a salary.  This may because of the high value attached to the role that the wives of men who were avrechim had to play and the value and esteem bestowed on them.

In conclusion, the authors say: 'The findings of this study highlight the need, particularly in multi-cultural societies and those with immigrant populations, to understand the norms and sensitivities that affect the responses of different groups to ‘universal’ screening programmes and to open pathways for identifying problems and accessing help when it is needed. This study offered the opportunity to gain insight into the perinatal experiences of a minority sub-population whose norms and lifestyle are different than those of the mainstream culture and to attempt to alleviate symptoms of perinatal depression among them'.

Listen to this as a podcast.

Reference

GLASSER S., HADAD L., BINA R., BOYKO V. & MAGNEZI R. ( 2016) Rate, risk factors and assessment of a counselling intervention for antenatal depression by public health nurses in an Israeli ultra-orthodox community. Journal of Advanced Nursing doi: 10.1111/jan.12938

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