Screening tools for postpartum depression: validity and cultural dimensions

Afr J Psychiatry (Johannesbg). 2010 Nov;13(5):357-65. doi: 10.4314/ajpsy.v13i5.63101.


Objective: The purpose of this study is to review the main postpartum screening tools currently used in terms of their ability to screen for postnatal depression. Furthermore, the cultural characteristics of depressive postpartum symptomatology are examined.

Method: A systematic literature search was conducted for the period 1987-2009, using the Medline electronic database for the following keywords: postpartum depression and postnatal depression. These terms were combined with: assessment, screening and psychometric tools.

Results: Of the four screening tools reviewed and compared, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and the Postpartum Depression Screening Scale (PDSS) presented substantial sensitivity and specificity as screening tools. However, none of the instruments could be rated flawless when applied to different cultural contexts.

Conclusions: In addition to the EPDS, a new generation of instruments is currently available. Supplementary research is needed to substantiate their use as screening tools in general practice. Additional studies are needed to adapt and test instruments to detect postnatal depression within a wider range of languages and cultures.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis*
  • Depression, Postpartum / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity*
  • Validation Studies as Topic