Patient Preferences for Clinician Interactional Style in Treatment of Perinatal Depression

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Most women with depression around the time of childbearing are not treated adequately, or at all. Clinical practice guidelines focus primarily on provision of information rather than on interaction factors. In this study, we explored clinician interactional style characteristics contributing to patient response to perinatal depression referral and treatment. Stratified purposeful sampling resulted in 23 participants selected by pregnancy, socioeconomic, and depression status. Participants completed semistructured interviews exploring their experiences with and preferences for clinician interactional style characteristics in the context of obstetrics-setting referral and delivery of depression treatment. Thematic analysis revealed a central theme related to interactional cues that influence women’s reactions to clinical encounters, summarized by the question, “Can this person help me?” Women evaluated this question in four domains: feeling heard, developing trust in the clinician, perceiving technical competence in the clinician, and feeling that the intervention focus is effectively chosen and communicated. Our results imply that, in addition to informational factors, the way in which clinicians interact with patients about depression might strongly influence patient responses.


SAGE Publications