Postpartum depression screening by family nurse practitioners

J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2007 Jun;19(6):321-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-7599.2007.00232.x.


Purpose: The purpose of the study was to identify whether and how nurse practitioners (NPs) screen for postpartum depression, as well as to identify factors affecting such screening.

Data sources: Self-report data were gathered from 159 questionnaires completed by a convenience sample of family NPs (FNPs) in Illinois and Wisconsin during July 2002.

Conclusions: Despite the fact that 84% of FNP respondents saw at least one postpartum woman yearly, 42% never screened for postpartum depression in any way. The subjects' confidence in their knowledge of how to use a screening tool was the single best predictor of screening behavior (r= .487). NPs tend to follow clinical practice guidelines, but no guidelines exist to address postpartum depression specifically. Screening for postpartum depression is not universal, making it likely that prevailing estimates of the incidence of this disease are low.

Implications for practice: If the number of NPs who screen for postpartum depression could be increased, many postpartum patients and families could be positively affected. Advanced practice nursing education should adequately prepare graduates to screen at-risk patients. The development of graduate curricula including thorough units on postpartum depression, as well as formulation of clinical practice guidelines for postpartum depression, could make great strides toward more and better screening, prompt diagnosis, and treatment.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Depression, Postpartum / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Illinois
  • Mass Screening* / methods
  • Mass Screening* / nursing
  • Mass Screening* / statistics & numerical data
  • Nurse Practitioners*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Wisconsin