What Does It Mean When We Screen? A Closer Examination of Perinatal Depression and Psychosocial Risk Screening Within One MCH Home Visiting Program




Sarah Kye Price and Saba W. Masho

Brief Type

Journal publication


  • Parents as Teachers (PAT)


Perinatal depression screening has become an imperative for maternal and child health (MCH) home visitation programs. However, contextual life experiences and situational life stress may be equally important in determining program response. As one component of a larger research study with an urban MCH home visitation program, we examined the results from multiple measures of depression and anxiety symptoms, social support and stressful life events in a sample of 30 newly enrolled program participants. We compared commonly used tools in identifying women who were “at risk” for perinatal depression. The analysis used published and agency practice cut-off scores, examined correlations between measures, and reflected on the role of stressful life events in this assessment. In this low-income, predominantly African-American sample, the assessed tools were inconsistent in identifying “at risk” women for perinatal depression, ranging from 22 % (Edinburgh Perinatal Depression Scale) to 75 % (Center for Epidemiological Studies, Depression Scale) depending on the instrument. Depression and anxiety were correlated across most measures, although provider-collected data did not correlate as anticipated with other measures. The combination of screening for perinatal depression and stressful life events offered an additional perspective on possible symptom alleviation and psychosocial intervention that could occur within the home visiting program. Our experience suggests that introducing a brief inventory of stressful life events accompanying perinatal depression screening allowed for a more comprehensive understanding of women’s experiences than perinatal depression screening alone. We encourage psychosocial risk screening which integrates assessment of social support, stressful life events and perinatal depression symptoms. (author abstract)

Data Collection Methods

  • Standardized assessment tools



For More Information

Price, S. K., & Masho, S. W. (2014). What does it mean when we screen? A closer examination of perinatal depression and psychosocial risk screening within one MCH home visiting program. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 18(4), 765–771. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-013-1317-7
Author Contact Information:
Sarah Kye Price


  • Participant Characteristics