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Maternal-child health, postpartum depression screening, postpartum depression, primary care



  1. Docherty, Angie Nurs.D, MPH, RN (Associate Professor)


Background and purpose: Postpartum depression (PPD) has significant sequelae for mother and child. To aid diagnosis, PPD screening should continue throughout the postpartum year. In primary care, there may be a lack of consistency in how screening is applied. In Oregon, with a reported PPD rate of 18.2%, it is important to determine whether screening is reaching all women. The purpose of this study was to explore primary care provider screening practices in the postpartum year and determine if there are barriers to meeting PPD guidelines.


Methods: A descriptive, cross-sectional survey was conducted with primary care providers in Oregon. Data were sought on screening practices and timing, as well as potential barriers. To aid comparison, screening was compared against both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (NAPNAP)/US Preventative Services Task Force guidelines. Data were analyzed using R statistical computing and Pearson chi-square tests.


Results: Of the 55 respondents, 29% followed the AAP recommendations and screened at well-child visits; 64% followed the NAPNAP recommendations and screened at least once in the postpartum year; and 31% did not meet any screening guidelines. The most common screening barriers were limited knowledge and/or availability of referral services. Physicians were more likely to meet any recommended guidelines than nurse practitioners (NPs) (p = .023).


Implications for practice: A notable number of women may not be receiving PPD screening. It is concerning that most of those not screening were NPs, given the focus of their practice on disease prevention and health management. Further research is warranted to confirm whether women are missing opportunities for early intervention and whether strategies can be established to standardize the approach in primary care.