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postpartum depression, psychometrics, screening



  1. McCabe, Klanci
  2. Blucker, Ryan
  3. Gillaspy, J. Arthur Jr.
  4. Cherry, Amy
  5. Mignogna, Melissa
  6. Roddenberry, Angela
  7. McCaffree, Mary Anne
  8. Gillaspy, Stephen R.


Background: Rates of postpartum depression have been found to be significantly higher in mothers of infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) than the general population estimate of 10%-15%, making routine screening for these mothers essential.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine the reliability (internal consistency) and construct validity of the Postpartum Depression Screening Scale with a sample of mothers of infants in the NICU.


Methods: A total of 111 (40% of eligible) mothers participated in the study. Mothers completed a brief demographic questionnaire and the screening scale at 14 or greater days postpartum. Estimates of internal consistency were evaluated using Cronbach's coefficient alpha.


Results: On the basis of the scale total score, 52% of mothers had a positive screen and an additional 30% received a score indicating that they were at-risk. Reliability estimates were consistent with previous research and indicate excellent internal consistency for the total score and adequate to good internal reliability for subscales scores. The coefficient alpha for total score equaled .95, and alpha for subscale scores ranged from .72 (Anxiety/Insecurity) to .89 (Suicidal Thoughts). Interscale correlations were consistently lower than subscale reliability estimates (coefficient alpha) and were lower than subscale-to-total score correlations, suggesting initial support for the proposed structure of the scale for mothers in the NICU.


Discussion: Most of this sample of mothers experienced significant symptoms of postpartum depression. The Postpartum Depression Screening Scale is a promising tool for screening mothers with infants in the NICU. Additional research is necessary to better understand the construct and predictive validity of scores among these mothers. Current and future research will contribute to the routine use of scale as a screening tool in this environment.