Perinatal Depression: Research Study and Design


Perinatal depression is a serious health condition that affects the lives of both a mother and her child, decreasing their quality of life. While much attention was paid to symptoms and treatment options, it is still critical to determine prerequisites that lead to mood changes in a postpartum period. The qualitative article by Highet, Stevenson, Purtell, and Coo (2014) attempts to explore women’s feelings and thoughts to present insights from their experience. In turn, Katon, Russo, and Gavin (2014) discover predictors of postpartum depression based on quantitative research. This paper aims at comparing two different approaches used in the mentioned articles, including their design, research questions, sampling, practical implications, and potential quality improvement.

Purpose of the Research Study and Research Design

The research design of both articles is appropriate for their research questions. In particular, Katon et al. (2014) apply a prospective cohort study to verify the hypothesis that perinatal depression is caused by such risk factors as anxiety during pregnancy, neuroticism, and a low level of support. Since the authors aim at testing the prevalence and likelihood of the mentioned factors, the use of the cohort study is undeniably correct.

The purpose of Highet et al. (2014) is to obtain an understanding of women’s opinions regarding the causes of the target health issue. Consistent with Creswell and Creswell (2018), who emphasize the exploratory nature of the qualitative design, the intent of the abovementioned article fits the context of the research questions posed, which promote “the development of rich explanations from individual experiences” (Highet et al., 2014, p. 180).

Research Questions and How They Relate to the Topic

Even though research questions are not presented explicitly in both articles, they are still evident as a result of their review. Katon et al. (2014) discuss the fact that there may be various social, demographic, and health-related factors that may lead to perinatal depression, and the authors sought to test these statements made by previous studies. Such a research question meets the requirements of the quantitative design in using numerical data and applying statistical methods of analysis.

As for the study conducted by Highet et al. (2014), the research questions may be formulated as follows: what are the perspectives of women who have encountered depression after the birth of a child? This question lies in the context of qualitative research as it can be addressed using documenting participants’ thoughts and feelings, thus diving deeper into the problem.

Sampling Process and Sample Size

The sampling size of the selected qualitative article seems to be less representative than that of the quantitative one. Namely, the latter consists of 3,039 women, of which 1,423 meet the inclusion criteria and have a postpartum assessment (a lack of this point is regarded as exclusion criteria), while the former includes only 28 respondents. Nevertheless, the sample size of these studies corresponds to their design since the statistical analysis requires more data and tends to be more objective, and the qualitative data may be based on the subjective data of fewer participants (Yilmaz, 2013).

The sampling process for the study by Katon et al. (2014) is based on Fischer exact tests and t-tests to determine the appropriateness of potential participants, which is important to exclude patients with unsuitable variables. For the other study, women who reported about postpartum depression willing to have interviewed are recruited via the Beyondblue website, an Australian organization; no exclusion criteria are used.

Appropriateness of Articles

About the topic of perinatal depression, a relevant clinical question is how to identify its early signs and symptoms in women and promote prompt measures to prevent or, at least, facilitate further complications? In this case, both qualitative and quantitative designs seem to be appropriate for revealing such early signs as excessive crying, loss of appetite, withdrawing from the society, et cetera. However, open-ended interviews with a specific postpartum depression test may be the most pertinent method of gathering information.

It is possible to suggest that women are more likely to express their emotions in face-to-face interviews, and researchers, thus, have the opportunity to note the earliest symptoms and make conclusions. After reading the chosen articles, one may suggest that both healthcare providers and patients should be targeted to improve the situation. First, nurses should be educated on how to recognize perinatal depression beginning, and then, they should educate pregnant women and those who prepare becoming mothers on the importance and process of self-assessment.

Translation of the Article into the Practice

Early perinatal depression detection and continuous care of women in terms of their monitoring are noted as possible practical implications in both articles. The recommendations o Highet et al. (2014) may be translated into practice by ensuring that the same care professionals would work with a patient for a long period, which will facilitate their mutual trust and depression prevention. At the same time, the mentioned authors note that many mothers need adjustment to parenting.

Indeed, since postpartum depression is largely caused by the transition of women into a new role and feelings of frustration and loss, appropriate education is required. Katon et al. (2014) conclude that younger age, chronic disease, intake of antidepressants, and the presence of psychosocial factors prevail in those women who tend to develop perinatal depression. Therefore, the attention of care providers to these issues may contribute to addressing the given health problem at the early stages.

Difference Between Quality Improvement, a System Change, Research, and Evidence-Based Practice Initiatives

Research is a systematic exploration of a topic designed to gain generalizable knowledge. Both articles may be regarded as research since they test hypotheses and evaluate available data. Evidence-based practice initiatives may follow from research as scholars make conclusions, and practitioners may apply them. In this case, the practical implications of the articles were discussed in the previous section of this paper.

In its turn, quality improvement may be defined as effective and consistent delivery of patient-centered care services. Highet et al. (2014) and Katon et al. (2014) promote better performance, professional development of caregivers, and enhanced patient outcomes while targeting local gaps. In general, healthcare monitors all the threats and opportunities on the national level and conducts researches to improve the efficiency of the system, thus changing it for the better. The analyzed articles cannot affect a system change, yet they may be used for further researches as reliable and relevant academic evidence.


In conclusion, it seems important to stress that both qualitative and quantitative research designs are beneficial in studying one or another health problem. In this paper, it was revealed that postpartum depression could be explored from different perspectives. If the qualitative article allows understanding women’s attitudes and experience, the quantitative study is helpful to gain statistically-meaningful results.

In combination, they create a full picture of the problem, so that further evidence-based initiatives become more evident for practitioners. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that any health problem should be investigated either using a mixed-method research design or in the course of several qualitative and quantitative studies.


Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2018). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (5th ed.). New York, NY: Sage.

Highet, N., Stevenson, A. L., Purtell, C., & Coo, S. (2014). Qualitative insights into women’s personal experiences of perinatal depression and anxiety. Women and Birth, 27(3), 179-184. Web.

Katon, W., Russo, J., & Gavin, A. (2014). Predictors of postpartum depression. Journal of Women’s Health, 23(9), 753-759. Web.

Yilmaz, K. (2013). Comparison of quantitative and qualitative research traditions: Epistemological, theoretical, and methodological differences. European Journal of Education, 48(2), 311-325. Web.

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NursingBird. "Perinatal Depression: Research Study and Design." February 7, 2021.