Screening women for high risk of postnatal depression

J Psychosom Res. 1994 Aug;38(6):539-45. doi: 10.1016/0022-3999(94)90051-5.


A ten-item screening questionnaire was constructed from previous reports on risk factors for postnatal depression, and its ability to predict antenatally the development of postnatal depression was tested. Women attending an antenatal clinic at 36 wk gestation completed the questionnaire and, at 8 wk postpartum, were assessed for the presence of depression using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). Although antenatal questionnaire scores correlated significantly with postnatal EPDS scores, this was largely because the questionnaire was able to identify correctly those who would not become depressed. Neither the questionnaire as a whole, nor groups of items, was able to discriminate well between women who later did or did not become depressed. However, women who reported previous or current treatment for depression were at a threefold greater risk of becoming or remaining depressed postnatally. Possible reasons for the negative results are discussed, including the heterogeneity of depression occurring in the postnatal period.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / prevention & control*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening*
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychometrics
  • Puerperal Disorders / diagnosis
  • Puerperal Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Puerperal Disorders / psychology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors