Background: Depression during the perinatal period affects 12 percent of women in the United States and can be a major pregnancy complication, causing adverse outcomes for both mothers and their infants if left untreated. Thus, addressing perinatal depression must be a national priority. The COVID-19 pandemic has created several barriers to accessing treatment, such as the closing of healthcare facilities, the lack of childcare, over-reliance on the internet, the suspension of home visiting programs, and furloughs for primary care providers, to name a few. The rate of births has not decreased. At the same time, the need for effective mental health treatments has only increased as the pandemic increases mental health challenges.
Proposed Solution to the Problem: Alongside its patient partners, the project team will design novel virtual/distanced ways to increase stakeholder participation in PCOR/CER research in spite of the barriers to engaging in the era of social distancing.
Objectives: The proposed research engagement project will use multiple methods to engage participants in PCOR/CER and build the capacity to engage stakeholders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Activities: The primary activity is to facilitate a month-long PCOR/CER webinar series that will include leading perinatal depression researchers, patients, and other stakeholders to review and introduce contemporary research and identify pathways for distanced/virtual patient and patient-researcher engagement. Secondary activities will include dissemination of information in new ways (i.e., short video, SMS text messaging), and evaluation of the fidelity of the proposed virtual/distanced PCOR/CER engagement strategies.
Projected Outcomes and Outputs: The projected outcomes and outputs will strengthen and deepen a network of members to engage as stakeholder partners in future perinatal depression PCOR/CER in the context of COVID-19. They include:
- Boosting the existing partnership and gaining momentum for socially distant research engagement through planning a research webinar series
- Evaluating and disseminating the activities from the webinar series
- Providing a platform for researchers to hear patient perspectives and ideas for research
- Identifying viable technological solutions that can be widely accessed virtually for continuously engaging with stakeholders to improve quality of depression care through PCOR/CER for maternal care patients, including short information videos
- Disseminating what is learned from this project to the national audience of PCOR/CER stakeholders
Patient and Stakeholder Engagement Plan: The awardee will draw upon the regional expertise of patient and stakeholder advisory boards involved in the IDEA Women’s Health Coalition and the IPHRC in the planning and delivery of the capacity-building webinar series.
Project Collaborators: This COVID-19 engagement project is a collaboration with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, University of Illinois Carle College of Medicine, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, College of Education, and School of Social Work, and the University of Iowa.