An exploratory study of screening practices and barriers for postpartum depression in Texas

Roula Zoghbi, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Purpose. To evaluate the prevalence of Postpartum Depression (PPD) screening among practicing obstetrician-gynecologists in Texas, and to identify factors and barriers associated with routine depression screening practices. Subjects. One hundred and eighty-nine fellows and junior fellows of the Texas Association of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (District XI). Methods. A survey questionnaire was developed and sent to 2,028 obstetriciangynecologists, asking about their current screening practices related to PPD. The survey questions were related to the physician's demographics, the patient population, screening practices, barriers to screening, and perceptions about resources in the community. Responses were analyzed to determine associations between these factors and the physician's screening practices. Results. The respondents (n=189) constituted 9.3% of the surveyed population, thus the findings cannot be considered representative of all practicing Ob-Gyns in Texas. However, the following trends were observed. Of the respondents, 85.4% reported routinely screening for PPD, while 14.6% did not. However, of those that screened, only 20.2% used the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale and 7.6% screened with the Postpartum Depression Screening Scale, both validated screening tools. The majority (77.2%) reported using an informal patient interview to screen. For those who did not routinely screen, inadequate training and inadequate resources to screen for PPD were the top two barriers. Physician's age was associated with routine screening practice, as older physicians were less likely to screen routinely. Primary insurance coverage of the patient population was also associated with screening practice; physicians with Medicaid and uninsured patients were less likely to screen routinely. Lastly, physicians that believed that adequate resources existed in their communities for the treatment of PPD were more likely to screen than those that did not. Conclusions. The present study is the first attempt at assessing Postpartum Depression screening practices and barriers in Texas. Although the response rate was low, the findings related to informal screening methods and inadequate training indicated that education and training with regards to PPD screening and validated screening tools among Ob-Gyns stand to be improved. Connecting physicians to psychiatric resources may also improve screening rates. This first look at screening practices in Texas serves as a platform for future research in order to gain definitive insight into the diagnosis and treatment of PPD, and ultimately design interventions to improve detection rates and treatment.

Subject Area

Mental health|Medicine|Public health|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Zoghbi, Roula, "An exploratory study of screening practices and barriers for postpartum depression in Texas" (2010). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1474719.