Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Public Health and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

A survey of the clinical acceptability of screening for postnatal depression in depressed and non-depressed women

Alan W Gemmill1, Bronwyn Leigh1, Jennifer Ericksen1 and Jeannette Milgrom12*

Author Affiliations

1 Parent-Infant Research Institute, Department of Clinical & Health Psychology, Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital, Austin Health, 300 Waterdale Road, Heidelberg West, Vic 3081, Australia

2 Department of Psychology, School of Behavioural Science, University of Melbourne, Vic 3010, Australia

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2006, 6:211  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-211

Published: 17 August 2006

Abstract

Background

Information on clinical acceptability is needed when making cost-utility decisions about health screening implementation. Despite being in use for two decades, most data on the clinical acceptability of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) come from qualitative reports, or include relatively small samples of depressed women. This study aimed to measure acceptability in a survey of a relatively large, community sample with a high representation of clinically depressed women.

Methods

Using mail, telephone and face-to-face interview, 920 postnatal women were approached to take part in a survey on the acceptability of the EPDS, including 601 women who had screened positive for depression and 245 who had received DSM-IV diagnoses of depression. Acceptability was measured on a 5-point Likert scale of comfort ranging from "Not Comfortable", through "Comfortable" to "Very Comfortable".

Results

The response rate was just over half for postal surveys (52%) and was 100% for telephone and face-to-face surveys (432, 21 and 26 respondents for postal, telephone and face-to-face surveys respectively) making 479 respondents in total. Of these, 81.2% indicated that screening with the EPDS had been in the range of "Comfortable" to "Very Comfortable". The other 18.8 % rated screening below the "Comfortable" point, including a small fraction (4.3%) who rated answering questions on the EPDS as "Not Comfortable" at the extreme end of the scale. Comfort was inversely related to EPDS score, but the absolute size of this effect was small. Almost all respondents (97%) felt that screening was desirable.

Conclusion

The EPDS had good acceptability in this study for depressed and non-depressed women. Women's views on the desirability of postnatal depression screening appear to be largely independent of personal level of comfort with screening. These results should be useful to policy-makers and are broadly supportive of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale as a suitable tool for universal perinatal depression screening.