Outcomes of Implementing Routine Screening and Referrals for Perinatal Mood Disorders in an Integrated Multi-site Pediatric and Obstetric Setting

Matern Child Health J. 2019 Oct;23(10):1292-1298. doi: 10.1007/s10995-019-02780-x.


Purpose: We report on a successful quality improvement project designed to increase access to perinatal mental health services through universal screening for postpartum depression (PPD) and facilitating referrals for evaluation and treatment, at a multi-site, integrated system of pediatric and obstetric practices in Houston, Texas.

Description: Obstetric practices administered screenings twice during pregnancy and at 6 weeks postpartum. Pediatric practices screened women at the 2 week and 2, 4, and 6-month well-baby visit. Women with a score of 10 or higher on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) or women that reported thoughts of self-harm were offered a referral to a mental health provider. Data on screening and referrals were collected from the electronic medical record.

Results: A total of 102,906 screens for PPD were completed between May 2014 and July 2018. Of those, 6487 (6.3%) screened positive. The total number of women referred to treatment were 3893 (3.8%). Of referred women 2172 (55.8%) completed an appointment with a mental health provider within 60 days of referral. Rates of completed appointments varied by the level of integration of the mental health provider and referring physician: women referred by pediatrics in a Level 1 coordinated system completed 20.0% of referrals; obstetrics Level 4 co-located system, 76.6%; and obstetrics Level 5 integrated model, 82.7%.

Conclusion: This project demonstrated that with planning, systems review and trained staff, PPD screening can be integrated into obstetric and pediatric practices and high screening and referral rates can be achieved.

Keywords: Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale; Maternal and child health; Pediatrics well-child visits; Postpartum depression; Screening.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / standards*
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Mass Screening / standards*
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mood Disorders / psychology*
  • Obstetrics / methods
  • Obstetrics / standards
  • Obstetrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Pediatrics / methods
  • Pediatrics / standards
  • Pediatrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality Improvement
  • Referral and Consultation / standards
  • Referral and Consultation / trends
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Texas / epidemiology