Research by Zachary Stowe and colleagues published in this month’s issue of Archives of Women’s Health explored the occurrence of suicidal thoughts in pregnant women. One aspect of the study investigated the efficacy of assessment tools (questionnaires) used to determine the existence and severity of suicidal ideation. The results revealed a large difference (up to 75%) in the detection of thoughts of suicide depending on the assessment tool used.
This research reminds us that the questions professionals ask perinatal women do affect how much she will reveal about the distress she is feeling. It also serves as an appeal to women to confide in a trusted professional about troublesome feelings that may be having.
Stowe and colleagues have done thorough work to enhance the assessment process. Choosing the most appropriate assessment tool is vital and should always be used along with good counseling instincts and a safe environment. These help establish trust in one’s clinician and are irreplaceable in the assessment and treatment process.