Screening and Treatment After Implementation of a Universal Perinatal Depression Screening Program


To evaluate whether initiation of an institutional policy of universal perinatal depression screening was associated with sustained increases in frequency in screening and of depression treatment subsequent to a positive screen.


This retrospective cohort study included women receiving prenatal care in outpatient offices at a single academic medical center from 2008 to 2015. In 2009, an institutional policy of universal perinatal depression screening was disseminated in which screening twice antenatally and again postpartum were recommended. The frequency of screen completion at each recommended time point was compared between the prepolicy and postpolicy cohorts. A test of trend that assessed the frequency of screening each year after policy initiation was used to assess changes over time. The frequency with which care plans were created for women who screened positive for perinatal depression were compared before and after implementation.


Of the 5,127 women who met inclusion criteria, 4,005 (78%) were in the postpolicy cohort. The frequency of completion of depression screening at the first prenatal visit (0.1% vs 65.5%), in the third trimester (0.0% vs 42.7%), and at the postpartum visit (69.5% vs 90.0%) increased after initiation of the policy (P<.001 for all). The improvement in postpartum depression screening completion persisted after controlling for potential confounders (adjusted odds ratio 5.3, 95% CI 4.4-6.5). After the initial increase in uptake of screening, the frequency of screening at the first and third trimester prenatal visits continued to increase over time (P<.001 for each), although this frequency remained stable for the postpartum visit (P=.29). Women with a positive postpartum depression screen were more likely to have depression treatment recommended or provided by their obstetrician postpolicy (64.7% vs 30.1%, P<.001).


Implementation of an institutional policy of universal perinatal depression screening was associated with improvements in perinatal depression screening with concomitant improvements in depression treatment recommendations for women with a positive postpartum depression screen.