Diagnostic performance of major depression disorder case-finding instruments used among mothers of young children in the United States: A systematic review

Arthur Owora, Carabin Hélène Carabin, Jessica Reese, Tabitha Garwe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

8 Scopus citations


Introduction Growing recognition of the interrelated negative outcomes associated with major depression disorder (MDD) among mothers and their children has led to renewed public health interest in the early identification and treatment of maternal MDD. Healthcare providers, however, remain unsure of the validity of existing case-finding instruments. We conducted a systematic review to identify the most valid maternal MDD case-finding instrument used in the United States. Methods We identified articles reporting the sensitivity and specificity of MDD case-finding instruments based on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) by systematically searching through three electronic bibliographic databases, PubMed, PsycINFO, and EMBASE, from 1994 to 2014. Study eligibility and quality were evaluated using the Standards for the Reporting of Diagnostic Accuracy studies and Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies guidelines respectively. Results Overall, we retrieved 996 unduplicated articles and selected 74 for full-text review. Of these, 14 articles examining 21 different instruments were included in the systematic review. The 10 item Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale and Postpartum Depression Screening Scale had the most stable (lowest variation) and highest diagnostic performance during the antepartum and postpartum periods (sensitivity range: 0.63-0.94 and 0.67-0.95; specificity range: 0.83-0.98 and 0.68-0.97 respectively). Greater variation in diagnostic performance was observed among studies with higher MDD prevalence. Limitation Factors that explain greater variation in instrument diagnostic performance in study populations with higher MDD prevalence were not examined. Discussion Findings suggest that the diagnostic performance of maternal MDD case-finding instruments is peripartum period-specific.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-193
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016
Externally publishedYes



  • Case-finding instrument
  • Diagnostic performance
  • Major depression disorder
  • Maternal depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this