University of Sussex
Browse (347.1 kB)

Understanding barriers to women seeking and receiving help for perinatal mental health problems in UK general practice: development of a questionnaire

Download (347.1 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-12, 09:14 authored by Elizabeth FordElizabeth Ford, Hannah Roomi, Hannah Hugh, Harm van MarwijkHarm van Marwijk
Aim To develop a questionnaire to measure quantitatively barriers and facilitators to women’s disclosure of perinatal mental health problems in UK primary care. To pilot and evaluate the questionnaire for content validity and internal consistency. Background Around 15% of women develop a mental illness in the perinatal period, such as depression, anxiety or PTSD. In the United Kingdom, 90% of these women will be cared for in primary care, yet currently in as many as 50% of cases, no discussion of this issue takes place. One reason for this is that women experience barriers to disclosing symptoms of perinatal mental illness in primary care. These have previously been explored qualitatively, but no tool currently exists with which to measure these barriers quantitatively. Methods Questionnaire items, drawn from qualitative literature and accounts of women’s experiences, were identified, refined iteratively, and arranged in themes. The questionnaire was piloted using cognitive debriefing interviews to establish content validity. Women completed a refined version online. Responses were analysed using descriptive statistics. Internal consistency of subscales was calculated using Cronbach’s alpha. Findings Cognitive debriefing interviews with five women showed the majority of questionnaire items were relevant, appropriate and easy to understand. The final questionnaire was completed by 71 women, and the majority of subscales had good internal consistency. The barrier scoring most highly was fear and stigma, followed by willingness to seek help and logistics of attending an appointment. Family/partner support and GPs’ reaction were the lowest scoring barriers. Factors facilitating disclosure were GPs being empathetic and non-judgemental, and listening during discussions. In the future this questionnaire can be used to examine which barriers are most important for particular groups of women. This may enable development of strategies to improve acknowledgement and discussion, and prevent under-recognition and under-treatment, of perinatal mental health problems in primary care.


Publication status

  • Published

File Version

  • Published version


Primary Health Care Research and Development




Cambridge University Press



Article number


Department affiliated with

  • Primary Care and Public Health Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


First Open Access (FOA) Date


First Compliant Deposit (FCD) Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Publications)


    No categories selected