|Jeanne Alhusen Biography and Abstract|
Jeanne Alhusen, PhD, CRNP, RN
John's Hopkins University School of Nursing
Dr. Jeanne Alhusen is an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. Her research interests are shaped by her experiences as a family nurse practitioner. Many of the women she cares for were subject to significant stressors including maltreatment in early life, and disruptions in their early caregiving environments. Since then she has developed a program of research in understanding the perinatal mental health, maternal attachment and their influence on early childhood outcomes, particularly in families living in poverty. Dr. Alhusen hopes that her research will contribute to greater program effects in early intervention programs and greater sustainability of gains over time.
Background/Significance: Depression is particularly prevalent among single mothers living in low-income urban communities with up to 59% reporting high rates of depressive symptomatology during pregnancy and 52% manifesting chronic depressive symptoms 1-2 years after the birth of the child. Self-management support (SMS) approaches for multiple chronic diseases have been shown to be effective; however, such approaches have only recently been tested among patients suffering from depression.
Study Purpose: The purpose of this study is to generate foundational knowledge regarding the course of perinatal depression, and to examine the potential impacts of a nurse-led SMS intervention on PPD and early childhood outcomes in a racially diverse sample of mother-child dyads living in urban poverty, with the larger goal of improving maternal health and early childhood outcomes for populations at-risk for depression-related health disparities. Study Aims: This longitudinal pilot study seeks to: a) examine the patterns of depressive symptomatology across perinatal period, b) gauge a range of effect sizes, acceptability and feasibility of a self-management intervention ("Mothers and Babies Course") delivered prenatally on decreasing depressive symptomatology in the post-partum period, and c) examine the influence of a self-management intervention on quality of maternal infant interaction in the post-partum period Implications: Depression during the perinatal period can have devastating consequences, not only for the women who are diagnosed, but also for their neonates and young children with increased risk of low birth weight, preterm birth, and early childhood developmental delays. The antenatal visit provides an opportune time for initial screening and intervention as most pregnant women seek prenatal care at some point during their pregnancy. Self-management interventions delivered within the antenatal setting could mitigate the well-established devastating consequences of depression on maternal, early childhood, and family outcomes.