Repeated depression screening during the first postpartum year

Ann Fam Med. 2015 May-Jun;13(3):228-34. doi: 10.1370/afm.1777.


Purpose: Postpartum depression (PPD) screening at 4 to 12 weeks' postpartum can improve outcomes for women when linked to in-practice management programs. The benefit of repeated PPD screening during the first year postpartum remains unclear.

Methods: We report a substudy of a large pragmatic trial of early PPD screening and practice management, the Translating Research into Practice for Postpartum Depression (TRIPPD) study. Outcome analyses were based on demographic information and Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) screening scores from questionnaires mailed to all enrolled women at baseline (4 to 12 weeks' postpartum) and again at 6 and at 12 months' postpartum. The main outcomes of this substudy were the 6- and 12-month rates of PHQ-9 scores that were 10 or greater for women whose baseline PHQ-9 scores were less than 10. Women whose scores were 10 or greater would be considered at high risk of PPD and appropriate for further evaluation.

Results: At 6 months, 134 (10.9%) of the 1,235 women who did not have PHQ-9 scores greater than 10 at baseline had elevated scores appropriate for further evaluation. At 12 months, 59 (6.1%) of the 969 women who did not have PHQ-9 scores greater than 10 at baseline or at 6 months had elevated scores. Together the 6- and 12-month repeated screenings identified 193 women at high risk of depression. This finding represents 13.5% of the 1,432 women whose screening results were negative for PPD at baseline.

Conclusions: Repeated PPD screening at 6 and 12 months' postpartum increases the percentage of women identified as being at high risk of PPD. Further work will be required to understand the impact of this repeated screening on patient outcomes.

Keywords: PHQ-9; postpartum depression; practice-based research; screening.

Publication types

  • Pragmatic Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Prognosis
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychometrics
  • Surveys and Questionnaires