Examining the Screening Practices of Physicians for Postpartum Depression: Implications for Improving Health Outcomes

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Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health


PURPOSE: Postpartum depression (PPD), the most common complication of childbirth, remains largely undetected by providers. Pediatricians, obstetricians/gynecologists, and family practitioners have a responsibility to identify PPD as the condition has long-term adverse effects on their patients. METHODS: Using PubMed and PsycInfo databases, this review explores and summarizes studies on the screening practices of physicians. FINDINGS: The prevalence and method of screening their patients for PPD was low and variable among the three types of physicians. Pediatricians were the least likely to screen compared with obstetricians/gynecologists and family practitioners. However, the majority of all physicians felt it was within their professional purview to screen for PPD and were willing to learn more about PPD detection. CONCLUSIONS: Screening rates can increase if physicians are educated about PPD and trained on the ease of routinely using a validated tool to identify PPD. This is critical, because more detection can lead to improved access to treatment, and the long-term detrimental impact that untreated PPD has on a mother and her children might be mitigated.

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