Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Nursing

Dissertation Committee

Cynthia D. Connelly, PhD, RN, FAAN, Chairperson; Ruth A. Bush, PhD, MPH, FAMIA; Semira Semino-Asaro, PhD, PMHCNS-BC, PMHNP-BC


perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, stigma, social support, depression, anxiety


Purpose/Aims: The purpose of this descriptive, correlational, cross-sectional study was to examine the relationships among perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD) symptomatology, select demographics, stigma of mental illness, and social support, among inpatient postpartum women. Rationale: PMADs affect as many as 21% of childbearing women, yet these disorders are identified and treated less than half the time. There is a gap in the literature regarding the relationships among stigma, social support, and PMADs in postpartum women.

Conceptual Basis/Background: Despite recommendations from professional organizations, screening for PMADs is not consistently completed using a valid, reliable instrument. Stigma contributes to the low rate of identification and treatment. Extant research shows an inverse relationship between high levels of social support and PMADs, possibly mitigating the effects of stigma.

Findings: A sample of 105 participants was divided into a low risk group (Group A) and a high-risk group (Group B) based on a score of >10 on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) or the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item (GAD-7) screening instruments. There were significant differences between groups for marital status (p=.01) with a higher percentage in Group A who were married and significant differences between groups for stigma (p=.002), with higher stigma for Group B participants. Social support measurements were also significantly different between groups (p

Implications: This study contributes to the nursing profession by highlighting the prevalence of PMADs, impact on families, ongoing barriers to identification and treatment, and highlights gaps in the existing hospital screening process as compared to screening utilizing valid, reliable instruments and provides the basis for implementing standardized screening in the inpatient setting.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access