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Psychological Distress in Healthy First-Time Mothers


The authors use the abstract to provide an overview of the study: its purpose, aims, methods, results, and conclusions. The article states the problem clearly and defines the key term used in the study to eliminate ambiguity. The key term, psychological distress, is described as an amalgamation of depression, anxiety, and insomnia. The purpose of the study is to explore the occurrence of psychological distress in mothers during the postpartum period.

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The problem is practically important because many women suffer from depression, anxiety, and insomnia as they try to adjust to the new life of motherhood. The study does not have a hypothesis because it is exploratory. However, its objective is to evaluate the occurrence depression, anxiety and insomnia in first-time mothers, their willingness to try cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CSE) to treat psychological distress, and the acceptability of methods and procedures used in the study (Murphy, Carter, Price, Champion, & Nichols, 2017).

Literature review

The literature review is presented as an introduction to the problem in the article. The researchers give background information, and use past research studies to support their arguments. An effective literature review is thorough, informative, relevant, and authoritative (Cutcliffe & Ward, 2014). The literature review is thorough and relevant. However, it does not critically appraise other studies but merely uses them to support arguments.

The majority of the sources cited are recent even though a few of them are older than ten years. This could compromise the study’s reliability because sources older than ten years might contain outdated information that might not be authoritative (Schutt, 2014). All the sources used are pertinent to the study. The literature review is extensive as it explores all variables (depression, anxiety, insomnia, and CSE) and give an in-depth discussion of each.

Materials and methods

The study uses an exploratory, cross-sectional design, which is suited to the study purpose, though limited in scope. The aim is to merely explore the research questions without the intent to offer conclusive evidence and solutions to the problem. This is a major weakness because inconclusive findings present several limitations when applied to practice (Yeong, 2014). It is an original study, though the authors used a research methodology that does not allow its replication.

They utilized a small sample of 33 women that was not representative of the scope of the problem, even if the application of Brown’s rule validated the size. The adequacy of sampling is plausible because the authors explain the inclusion and exclusion criteria (Yeong, 2014). Participants were chosen from two community health clinics and a private obstetrical clinic. Only healthy and low-risk first time mothers between the ages of 18-40 and who were set for follow-up care were chosen (Murphy et. al, 2017).

Women who had complications prior to or after delivery were excluded from the study. Out of the 42 eligible women, nine were excluded because of age, complications, and lack of follow-up care. The sample collection method and sample makes it difficult to generalize the findings of the study because they are localized to the three clinics. Therefore, the representative sample has below-average quality, thus making its validity weak.

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Recruitment and group assignment strategies were ethical because the researchers obtained consent from the participants to include them in the study. In addition, the study obtained approval from the University Institutional Review Board. Sampling was performed by subjecting eligible participants to a screening test that included a screening packet and a stress inventory (Murphy et. al, 2017). Data collection was conducted through interviews and questionnaires.

The degree of research corroboration is low because the interviews were conducted by the principal investigator alone. Engaging several interviewers would have improved the integrity of the findings. The credibility of the data is low because of prolonged engagement. Each participant’s engagement with the investigator lasted for 60 minutes, and unseen variables could have compromised the data’s credibility.

The study variables included depression, anxiety, and insomnia and were measured using seven instruments (Murphy et. al, 2017). Each variable was measured using one or a combination of the aforementioned instruments that were designed to ensure the quality and validity of the data collected. According to Parahoo (2014), a good study makes use of valid and reliable data collection and outcome measurement instruments. Six of the instruments had established validity in the literature while one did not. The article provides the reliability of the instruments used by giving the Cronbach alpha values for the five stress scales.

Results and data analysis

The results and the statistics are presented and clearly explained. The researchers used the IBM Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) to analyze the data (Murphy et. al, 2017). Descriptive statistics are provided and demographic characteristics are presented in the form of a table. The results of the study are credible because they were generated from both effect size and statistical tests of significance analyses.

The authors used three standardized clinical scales and two perceived stress scales. The other two instruments were forms developed by the investigator to collected data on participants’ backgrounds. The results obtained from different stress scales were compared with each other to improve their accuracy and reliability, and evaluate their correlation to the study variables. The findings of the study supported the hypothesis and purpose because the investigators demonstrated the occurrence of depression, anxiety, and insomnia among healthy, low-risk first-time mothers, their willingness to use CSE, and the acceptability of study methods used.


The discussion provides insights into the meaning and significance of the findings. Despite the various limitations identified, the findings of the study can be used to conduct future studies related to depression, anxiety, and insomnia. They can also be used in clinical practice for screening and assessment purposes. The conclusions of the study are related to the original study. The researchers found out that the mothers experienced psychological distress and were willing to use CES the treat depression, anxiety, and insomnia.

In addition, the results validate the feasibility of data collection procedures and outcome measures. In order for a study to be reliable, it should have few limitations (Harris, 2013). The main limitation of the study was the use of the cross-section design and a small sample. Moreover, the participants in the study did not use CES but only expressed their willingness to use it. For example, the issue of self-selection into the study might have compromised the results because the participants joined the study because of the psychological distress they were experiencing. Therefore, the findings might not be representative of the situation in the general women population.

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I would not use this article in my practice although its application would be useful in other areas. It is an exploratory study and the findings are inconclusive. However, the findings would be valuable in conducting research studies because they validate the feasibility of the study methods and procedures sued. The limitations encountered led to inclusive findings that require validation and improvement through further studies. The use o a small sample size, the use of a measurement instrument that lacks validation in literature, and the use of a cross-sectional design limit the consistency of the findings as well as their application.


Cutcliffe, J., & Ward, M. (2014). Critiquing Research (2nd ed). Luton, England: Andrews UK Limited.

Harris, S. R. (2013). How to critique journal articles in the social sciences. New York, NY: SAGE Publications.

Murphy, C., Carter, P., Price, L. R., Champion, J. D., & Nichols, F. (2017). Psychological distress in healthy low-risk first-time mothers during the postpartum period: An exploratory study. Nursing Research and Practice, 2017, 1-12.

Parahoo, K. (2014). Nursing research: principles, process, and issues. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Schutt, R. K, (2014). Investigating the social world: The process and practice of research. New York, NY: SAGE Publications.

Yeong, F. M. (2014). How to read and critique a scientific research article: Notes to guide students reading primary literature. New York, NY: World Scientific Publishing Company.

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"Psychological Distress in Healthy First-Time Mothers." StudyCorgi, 25 Feb. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Psychological Distress in Healthy First-Time Mothers." February 25, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Psychological Distress in Healthy First-Time Mothers." February 25, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Psychological Distress in Healthy First-Time Mothers." February 25, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Psychological Distress in Healthy First-Time Mothers'. 25 February.

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