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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Evaluation of the Edinburgh Post Natal Depression Scale using Rasch analysis

Julie F Pallant1*, Renée L Miller1 and Alan Tennant2

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Life and Social Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology, P.O. Box 218, Hawthorn, Victoria 3122, Australia

2 Academic Unit of Musculoskeletal & Rehabilitation Medicine, The University of Leeds, 36 Clarendon Road, Leeds. LS2 9NZ, UK

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BMC Psychiatry 2006, 6:28  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-6-28

Published: 12 June 2006



The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) is a 10 item self-rating post-natal depression scale which has seen widespread use in epidemiological and clinical studies. Concern has been raised over the validity of the EPDS as a single summed scale, with suggestions that it measures two separate aspects, one of depressive feelings, the other of anxiety.


As part of a larger cross-sectional study conducted in Melbourne, Australia, a community sample (324 women, ranging in age from 18 to 44 years: mean = 32 yrs, SD = 4.6), was obtained by inviting primiparous women to participate voluntarily in this study. Data from the EPDS were fitted to the Rasch measurement model and tested for appropriate category ordering, for item bias through Differential Item Functioning (DIF) analysis, and for unidimensionality through tests of the assumption of local independence.


Rasch analysis of the data from the ten item scale initially demonstrated a lack of fit to the model with a significant Item-Trait Interaction total chi-square (chi Square = 82.8, df = 40; p < .001). Removal of two items (items 7 and 8) resulted in a non-significant Item-Trait Interaction total chi-square with a residual mean value for items of -0.467 with a standard deviation of 0.850, showing fit to the model. No DIF existed in the final 8-item scale (EPDS-8) and all items showed fit to model expectations. Principal Components Analysis of the residuals supported the local independence assumption, and unidimensionality of the revised EPDS-8 scale. Revised cut points were identified for EPDS-8 to maintain the case identification of the original scale.


The results of this study suggest that EPDS, in its original 10 item form, is not a viable scale for the unidimensional measurement of depression. Rasch analysis suggests that a revised eight item version (EPDS-8) would provide a more psychometrically robust scale. The revised cut points of 7/8 and 9/10 for the EPDS-8 show high levels of agreement with the original case identification for the EPDS-10.