Enhancing Participation in Depression Care in Outpatient Perinatal Care Settings: A Systematic Review

Obstet Gynecol. 2015 Nov;126(5):1048-1058. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000001067.


Objective: To examine a wide range of study designs and outcomes to estimate the extent to which interventions in outpatient perinatal care settings are associated with an increase in the uptake of depression care.

Data sources: PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO, ClinicalTrials.gov, and Scopus (EMBASE) were searched for studies published between 1999 and 2014 that evaluated mental health care use after screening for depression in perinatal care settings.

Methods of study selection: Inclusion criteria were: 1) English language; 2) pregnant and postpartum women who screened positive for depression; 3) exposure (validated depression screening in outpatient perinatal care setting); and, 4) outcome (mental health care use). Searches yielded 392 articles, 42 met criteria for full-text review, and 17 met inclusion criteria. Study quality was assessed using a modified Downs and Black scale.

Tabulation, integration, and results: Articles were independently reviewed by two abstractors and consensus reached. Study design, intervention components, and mental health care use were defined and categorized. Seventeen articles representing a range of study designs, including one randomized controlled trial and one cluster randomized controlled trial, were included. The average quality rating was 61% (31.0-90.0%). When no intervention was in place, an average of 22% (13.8-33.0%) of women who screened positive for depression had at least one mental health visit. The average rate of mental health care use was associated with a doubling of this rate with patient engagement strategies (44%, 29.0-90.0%), on-site assessments (49%, 25.2-90.0%), and perinatal care provider training (54%, 1.0-90.0%). High rates of mental health care use (81%, 72.0-90.0%) were associated with implementation of additional interventions, including resource provision to women, perinatal care provider training, on-site assessment, and access to mental health consultation for perinatal care providers.

Conclusion: Screening alone was associated with 22% mental health care use among women who screened positive for depression; however, implementation of additional interventions was associated with a two to fourfold increased use of mental health care. Although definitive studies are still needed, screening done in conjunction with interventions that target patient, health care provider, and practice-level barriers is associated with increased improved rates of depression detection, assessment, referral, and treatment in perinatal care settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Depression / therapy*
  • Depression, Postpartum / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Perinatal Care*
  • Pregnancy