A mixed methods study of collaboration between perinatal and infant mental health clinicians and other service providers: Do they sit in silos?

Research paper by Karen A KA Myors, Michelle M Cleary, Maree M Johnson, Virginia V Schmied

Indexed on: 12 Aug '15Published on: 12 Aug '15Published in: BMC Health Services Research


Women at risk of poor perinatal mental health benefit from coordinated approaches to care. Perinatal and infant mental health (PIMH) services have been established to support women with social and emotional needs. This paper examines the nature and extent of collaboration within two PIMH services in Australia.A convergent, embedded, mixed methods design was used. Two hundred and forty four medical records were reviewed, 13 professionals (six PIMH clinicians, two PIMH service managers, and five key stakeholders) and 11 women service-users participated in semi-structured interviews.Three broad themes were drawn from the data, Theme 1: We don't sit in silos … but they do, Theme 2: We need to enhance communication, and Theme 3: Collaboration is hard work. Perinatal and infant mental health clinicians believe they work collaboratively with other service providers. Key stakeholders and documentation in the medical records reveal that collaboration is nominal.Professionals believe that collaboration is essential for women with complex needs. Perinatal and infant mental health clinicians are skilled at building relationships with women, however further support is needed to build trusting relationships with other service providers. Women service-users also need to be involved in the collaborative process to become equal partners in their care.