The impact of a history of poor mental health on health care costs in the perinatal period

Chojenta, C., William, J., Martin, M., Byles, J., and Loxton, D.
Archives of Women's Mental Health, forthcoming. 

The perinatal period is a critical time for mental health and is also associated with high health care expenditure. Our previous work has identified a history of poor mental health as the strongest predictor of poor perinatal mental health. This study aims to examine the impact of a history of poor mental health on health care costs during the perinatal period. Data from the 1973-1978 cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH) were linked with a number of administrative datasets including the NSW Admitted Patient Data Collection and Perinatal Data Collection, the Medicare Benefits Scheme and the Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme between 2002 and 2011. Even when taking birth type and private health insurance status into account, a history of poor mental health resulted in an average increase of over 11% per birth across the perinatal period. These findings indicate that an investment in prevention and early treatment of poor mental health prior to child bearing may result in a cost saving in the perinatal period and a reduction of the incidence of women experiencing poor perinatal mental health

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