Screening for postnatal depression: are specific instruments mandatory?

J Affect Disord. 2001 Mar;63(1-3):233-8. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0327(00)00193-2.


Background: Few studies have examined the utility of rating scales developed in non-puerperal context in detecting postnatal depression. This study evaluated the utility of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) in screening for depression among recently delivered women in Hong Kong.

Methods: A prospective cohort of 145 Chinese women completed the GHQ, BDI and Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) 6 weeks after delivery. They were then assessed using the non-patient version of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R (SCID-NP) to establish psychiatric diagnosis, against which the criterion validity of the GHQ and BDI was evaluated against this clinical diagnosis. The psychometric performance of the GHQ, BDI and EPDS in detecting postnatal depression was assessed using the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves.

Results: Both Chinese GHQ and BDI had satisfactory sensitivity and positive predictive value in detecting postnatal depression. Their receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were comparable to that of the EPDS.

Limitation: The study was conducted in Chinese women using translated version of the rating scales.

Conclusions: The GHQ and BDI are useful for detecting postnatal depression among recently delivered Chinese women. The results of this study suggest that rating scales developed in non-puerperal context may also be applicable for postnatal depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening*
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales*
  • Psychometrics
  • Sensitivity and Specificity