Feasibility of perinatal mood screening and text messaging on patients' personal smartphones

Arch Womens Ment Health. 2020 Apr;23(2):181-188. doi: 10.1007/s00737-019-00981-5. Epub 2019 Jun 15.


Screens and adjunctive treatments for perinatal mood are available, but barriers prevent many women from receiving them. Mobile technology may help bypass barriers. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of screening and texting perinatal women via their personal smartphones. This prospective cohort study enrolled 203 pregnant and postpartum women receiving obstetric care at a Midwestern US academic medical center. Participants received one electronic mood screen and three text messages per week for two weeks. Texts were based on the Mothers and Babies Course, a CBT-based preventative program that addresses limited social support, lack of pleasant activities, and harmful thought patterns. Feasibility was defined as the ability to take the mood screen and receive texts without technical difficulties. Demographic variables were paired with results. Insurance type (private or public) was used as a proxy for socioeconomic status. Pearson chi-squared tests were used to analyze the data. A text-based satisfaction survey was also administered. The sample was 72% privately insured and 28% publicly insured. Sixty-seven percent completed electronic screening. Screen completion was significantly associated with private insurance (OR = 3.8, 95% CI 2.00-7.30) and "married" status (OR = 1.93, 95% CI 1.01-3.70). Most survey respondents (92%) found it easy to receive the texts, and 76% responded with very favorable comments about the texts. Smartphone mood screening and supportive texting were technically feasible. Screen completion was lower among single women with public insurance.

Keywords: Depression; Mobile health; Screening; Smartphone; Text.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Perinatal Care*
  • Postpartum Period / psychology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Smartphone*
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Text Messaging*