Designing the Abirson Scale for Detecting Postpartum Depression

Documenting the story of postpartum depression is just one goal of this research project. The stories collected from women across the United States will be used to develop a screening instrument for detecting postpartum depression that will hopefully improve the rate of women receiving the help they need postpartum. This tool will use animated scenario-based items to allow women to state whether they do or don’t feel like the women portrayed in the scenario. By designing the scale this way, the number of decisions required to be made by new moms will be drastically reduced from that of the scales currently used in medical practices across the country. Cultural insensitivity issues will also hopefully be reduced by removing vernacular-specific language. Quite possibly the most profound contribution anticipated is the reduction of personal stigma associated with maternal mental health and help-seeking.

Truthfully, a screening instrument won’t change how postpartum depression is perceived in the United States, and around the globe, at large. Many women will still feel unable to admit to their symptoms when interacting with this scale, perhaps for fear of being seeing as an unfit mother. This is why raising our voices is so important. To learn more about how you can raise your voice, visit the Share Your Story page.

 

Research Updates and Events

April, 2019: Presenting a Preview of the Qualitative Data

To mark the conclusion of the qualitative study, a beginning summary was presented at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Many participants of the Division D In-Progress Research Gala confronted Amanda to discuss her research and inquire about how they might be able to follow the progress of the study. The importance of the message was well received and certainly validated among the community of researchers, educators, and measurement specialists.

This presentation marks the first exposition of data collected from this study, and the start of the dissertation writing/scale development process.

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January, 2019: The Qualitative Study Begins

As a researcher, it is important to be aware of how personal positionality might influence the collection and interpretation of data. My personal experience with postpartum depression is certainly not “the” experience of postpartum depression. To “control” for my personal experience and conduct my research with an unbiased perspective (i.e., prevent designing a screening tool based solely or mainly on my own experience and not an experience that is common across many women), I began with a qualitative study. Conversations with medical practitioners, as well as surveys and interviews with mothers, were used to collect experiences and descriptions of postpartum depression, beginning in January of 2019. The qualitative study will commence in April, 2019. The rich information that is collected will be used to identify common themes describing how postpartum depression is felt and experienced to help shape the animated scenario-based items for the screener.

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