Objectives: The goals were to estimate the prevalence of parental depressive symptoms among parents at a pediatric primary care clinic and to evaluate the stability, sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of a very brief screen for parental depression.
Methods: A total of 216 mothers (because 96% of caregivers were mothers, we use this term) bringing in children <6 years of age for child health supervision completed a parent screening questionnaire in a primary care clinic. The parent screening questionnaire, a brief screen for psychosocial problems developed for the study, includes 2 questions on depressive symptoms. Mothers then completed the computerized study protocol within 2 months. This included the parent screening questionnaire as well as the Beck Depression Inventory II. Different combinations of the depression questions were evaluated against Beck Depression Inventory II clinical cutoff values.
Results: Twelve percent of the mothers met the Beck Depression Inventory II clinical cutoff value for at least moderate depressive symptoms. There was moderate stability of the screening questions. When a positive response to either or both of the 2 questions was considered, the sensitivity was 74%, the specificity was 80%, the positive predictive value was 36%, and the negative predictive value was 95%.
Conclusions: Maternal depressive symptoms are prevalent. A very brief screen can identify reasonably those who could benefit from additional evaluation and possible treatment. This should benefit mothers, families, and children.