News: Brief, reliable questionnaire can screen for postnatal depression

October 1, 2008

Postpartum depression can be reliably diagnosed using just 3 questions in a primary-care setting.

Postpartum depression can be reliably diagnosed using just three questions in a primary-care setting, according to the results of a study published online Sept. 1 in Pediatrics.

Karolyn Kabir, MD, of the University of Colorado in Denver, and colleagues conducted a study of 199 participants in an adolescent-oriented maternity program. The participants, aged 14 to 26 years, were assessed for postpartum depression using three subscales of the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale (EPDS), comprising three, seven, and two questions, respectively. The results were assessed by comparing them with a score of 10 or more on the full, 10-item EPDS.

In all, 41 mothers (20.6%) were referred for evaluation using the full 10-item scale, having met referral criteria using one of the brief subscales. Of the three subscales, the three-question EPDS (EPDS-3) subscale was the most reliable, with 95% sensitivity and 98% negative predictive value.

Kabir K, Sheeder J, Kelly LS. Identifying postpartum depression: are 3 questions as good as 10? Pediatrics. 2008;122:e696-e702. doi:10.1542/peds.2007-1759.