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Mann R, Adamson J, Gilbody SM.
Guidelines for perinatal mental health care recommend the use of two case–finding questions about depressed feelings and loss of interest in activities, despite the absence of validation studies in this context. We examined the diagnosticaccuracy of these questions and of a third question about the need for help asked of women receiving perinatal care.
We evaluated self-reported responses to two case–finding questions against an interviewer-assessed diagnostic standard (DSM-IV criteria for major depressive disorder) among 152 women receiving antenatal care at 26-28 weeks’ gestation and postnatal care at 5-13 weeks after delivery. Among women who answered “yes” to either question, we assessed the usefulness of asking a third question about the need for help. We calculated sensitivity, specificity and likelihood ratios for the two case–finding questions and for the added question about the need for help.
Antenatally, the two case–finding questions had a sensitivity of 100% (95% confidence interval [CI] 77%-100%), a specificity of 68% (95% CI 58%-76%), a positive likelihood ratio of 3.03 (95% CI 2.28-4.02) and a negative likelihood ratio of 0.041 (95% CI 0.003-0.63) in identifying perinatal depression. Postnatal results were similar. Among the women who screened positive antenatally, the additional question about the need for help had a sensitivity of 58% (95% CI 38%-76%), a specificity of 91% (95% CI 78%-97%), a positive likelihood ratio of 6.86 (95% CI 2.16-21.7) and a negative likelihood ratio of 0.45 (95% CI 0.25-0.80), with lower sensitivity and higher specificity postnatally.
Negative responses to both of the case–finding questions showed acceptable accuracy for ruling out perinataldepression. For positive responses, the use of a third question about the need for help improved specificity and the ability to rule indepression.