Background: The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) has been validated and used extensively in screening for depression in new mothers, both in English speaking and non-English speaking communities. While some studies have reported the use of the EPDS with fathers, none have validated it for this group, and thus the appropriate cut-off score for screening for depression or anxiety caseness for this population is not known.
Methods: Couples were recruited antenatally and interviewed at six weeks postpartum. EPDS scores and distress caseness (depression or anxiety disorders) for 208 fathers and 230 mothers were determined using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule.
Results: Analyses of the EPDS for fathers using distress caseness (depression or anxiety disorders) as the criterion shows that a cut-off of 5/6 has optimum receiver operating characteristics. Furthermore acceptable reliability (split-half and internal consistency) and validity (concurrent) coefficients were obtained. For mothers the optimum cut-off screening value to detect distress caseness was 7/8. Item analysis revealed that fathers endorsed seven of the ten items at lower rates to mothers, with the most significant being that referring to crying.
Conclusions: The EPDS is a reliable and valid measure of mood in fathers. Screening for depression or anxiety disorders in fathers requires a two point lower cut-off than screening for depression or anxiety in mothers, and we recommend this cut-off to be 5/6.