Risk and resilience: a mixed methods investigation of Aboriginal Australian women’s perinatal mental health screening assessments

Emma Carlin, Kimberley H. Seear, Katherine Ferrari, Erica Spry, David Atkinson, Julia V. Marley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: To describe the psychosocial protective and risk factors for perinatal mental health identified in a sample of Aboriginal women’s Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale (KMMS) assessments and explore the role of these factors in their screening assessment and diagnostic outcome. Methods: We used a mixed methods approach to retrospectively analyse a cross-sectional study dataset of 91 completed KMMS assessments. This included: categorising the clinical notes from the KMMS psychosocial yarn into ‘risk’ and ‘protective’ factors and describing these categories, describing the number and type of risk and protective factors associated with different KMMS risk assessment categories (no, low, medium, high), and exploring relationships between these risk and protective factors and diagnosis of perinatal depression and/or anxiety. Results: Protective factors were recorded for the vast majority of the women; the most prominent was positive family relationships. When protective and risk factors were stratified by KMMS risk category, women in the higher risk group less commonly had specific protective factors (11–33% high vs 61–100% no risk) and more commonly had risk factors (22–67% high vs 6–28% no risk) than women with lower KMMS assessed risk. The average number of protective factors decreased with increasing KMMS risk category (4.9 ± 1.1 to 1.6 ± 1.3), with the inverse pattern for risk factors (1.1 ± 1.1 to 3.8 ± 1.0). Having protective factors also appeared to reduce the risk of developing clinical depression or anxiety. Conclusion: Assessing protective factors in mental health screening for perinatal Aboriginal women increases the effectiveness of screening and provides a foundation for the delivery of local structured psychosocial care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-557
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number4
Early online date23 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


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