New Study: Doctors are NOT Screening for Postpartum Depression

A new study, conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, (to be published June 6 in the North Carolina Medical Journal), reveals that 79 percent of doctors reported that they were unlikely to formally screen patients for postpartum depression.

Dr. Bradley Gaynes, one of the study’s co-authors and a psychiatrist with UNC Health Care, reminds us that in addition to the Edinburgh (EPDS) Screening tool (most commonly used), healthcare practitioners can check for signs of PPD by a simple 2-question tool, developed by Whooley et al. (Whooley MA, Avins AL, Miranda J, Browner WS. Case-finding instruments for depression: two questions are as good as many. J Gen Intern Med 1997; 12: 439–45)

It has been shown that these two questions may be as effective as longer instruments.

These are the questions:

(1) “Over the past 2 weeks, have you felt down, depressed, or hopeless?”

(2) “Over the past 2 weeks, have you felt little interest or pleasure in doing things?”

A positive response to either question indicates a positive screen and should be followed by an comprehensive history and assessment to confirm the diagnosis of depression.

This is important.

Doctors take note: We should not need state legislation to mandate what we know to be medically significant. Patients should be screened for postpartum depression. It is easy. It take 5 minutes. It can save lives.

Clinicians take note: Healthcare practitioners need this information. Take the time to get this information to the doctors you work with or want to market to. Arm yourself with screening tools and literature to substantiate this practice.

Women with PPD take note: Talk to your doctors. Tell them about your experience. Urge them to move forward in line with the politcal push to increase PPD awareness, identification and treatment.

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