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Outcomes for women admitted to a mother and baby unit: a systematic review

Authors Gillham R, Wittkowski A

Received 24 January 2015

Accepted for publication 14 March 2015

Published 30 April 2015 Volume 2015:7 Pages 459—476


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Elie Al-Chaer

Rebecca Gillham,1 Anja Wittkowski1,2

1School of Psychological Sciences, University of Manchester, 2Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust, Manchester, UK

Abstract: Mother and baby units (MBUs) provide inpatient psychiatric care for mothers and their infants up to a year after childbirth. They are commissioned to support the mother–infant relationship as well as stabilize maternal mental health. As their efficacy at meeting these aims had not previously been systematically assessed, this paper reviewed the international literature relating to psychological outcomes following MBU admission. A systematic search of five databases identified 23 papers eligible for inclusion, reporting on a range of outcomes indicating positive effects on maternal mental health and the mother–infant relationship and an absence of adverse effects on child development. The review also highlighted specific groups responding less favorably to MBU admission, eg, mothers with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Although the included studies were of variable methodological quality, the research findings consistently indicated positive effects. Implications for research and clinical practice are outlined in the discussion.

Keywords: mother and baby unit, systematic review, psychological outcomes, postnatal mental health, quality assessment, mothers

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