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About MATRIx

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The MATRIx study is led by researchers at City, University of London in collaboration with experts  across the UK. MATRIx reviewed the research evidence on what prevents women who are pregnant or after birth from getting support and treatment they need if they are struggling with emotional or psychological problems. On the basis of these reviews we developed recommendations for healthcare services about how to tackle these barriers to make sure women and families get the help they need. The project involved experts and stakeholders from many different backgrounds and disciplines.​

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  1. Identify potential barriers and facilitators to assessment and treatment of perinatal mental health problems across the care pathway, both in terms of women accessing care or treatment, as well as in terms of NHS services implementing new assessment and treatment initiatives. 

  2. Develop a conceptual framework of barriers and facilitators to implementation that will inform healthcare services and practice, care pathways, and highlight where further research is needed.

We screened all search results for relevance and critically appraised the methodology of included papers using Joanna Briggs Critical Appraisal Tools for review 1, and the AMSTAR 2 tool for review 2. 


Results were analysed using a thematic synthesis and mapping themes onto a systems level model adapted from Ferlie and Shortell’s (2001) Levels of Change framework (e.g. individual level factors, HCP factors, organisational factors and larger system factors) and then grouped to reflect different stages of the care pathway adapted from Goldberg and Huxley’s (1992) Pathways to Care model (e.g. deciding to disclose, assessment, access to care, treatment). 

Two MATRIx conceptual frameworks were developed that highlight the importance of 66 barriers and 39 facilitators to perinatal mental healthcare at multiple levels that intersect across the care pathway. These conceptual frameworks informed the development of evidence-based recommendations on how to address barriers to ensure that all women are able to access the care and support they need. Recommendations were made for health policy, practice and research.

Supporting Organisations

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Suggested Citation

MATRIx study team (2021). Conceptual Framework for Perinatal Mental Health: online tool London, UK. 

Additional Information


We would like to acknowledge our collaborators Agnes Hann, Camilla Rosan, Andrea Sinesi and Clare Thompson for their input throughout the project. Thanks are also due to Nia Roberts who conducted the literature searches for both evidence reviews, and to Nazihah Uddin and Georgina Constantinou who assisted with screening, methodological quality appraisals and data extraction for the reviews. We are very grateful for the advice and oversight of the Study Steering Committee: Professor Jenny Billings (Chair), Dame Professor Cathy Warwick, Kathryn Grant, Dr Fiona Campbell and Dr Sarah Taha. Finally, many thanks to the health professionals, managers, commissioners, parents and other stakeholders who gave us their valuable feedback on the framework.​


This project is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research programme (NIHR 128068). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

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