Objective: To estimate the relationship of positive screening for depression during and after pregnancy with deployment status of the spouse.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study by reviewing a departmental database of women who completed the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale during pregnancy from 2007 to 2009. Per departmental protocol, screening is offered at the initial obstetric visit, at 28 weeks of gestation, and at 6 weeks postpartum. A score of 14 or higher was considered high risk for having depression, and referral for additional evaluation was recommended. Included in our survey was an additional question that asked if the patient's spouse was currently deployed, returning from deployment, preparing to deploy, or if no deployment was planned. All data were entered into an electronic database and statistical analysis performed comparing Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale scores at each time period and deployment status.
Results: A total of 3,956 surveys were complete and available for analysis. The risk of a positive screen was more than doubled compared with the control group (no deployment planned) if the spouse was deployed during the 28-32 week visit (4.3% compared with 13.1%, P=.012) or the postpartum period (8.1% compared with 16.2%, P=.006).
Conclusion: Deployment status has a measurable effect on the prevalence of elevated depression screening scores during pregnancy and in the postpartum period. These findings suggest that more intense monitoring, assessment, and treatment may be warranted for this at-risk population.
Level of evidence: II.