Long-term outcomes of participants in a perinatal depression early detection program

Rebecca Reay*, Stephen Matthey, David Ellwood, Maureen Scott

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    60 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Long-term follow-up studies are required to better understand the extent of the effectiveness of early detection programs for perinatal depression. We followed up participants in such a program to investigate the long-term depression, treatment and relationship outcomes of mothers originally identified as 'probably depressed' (screened positive). Methods: At 2 years postpartum all participants who had 'screened positive' (N = 159) and a random sample of participants who had 'screened negative' were invited to participate in a mailed survey. Measures included: current mood; coping; access to treatment; quality of partner relationship; and mother-infant bonding. Results: Mothers originally detected as probably depressed (n = 98) fared significantly worse than 'screened negative' mothers (n = 101) both in terms of their higher mean depression scores (EPDS: Ms = 11.0 vs. 6.4) and greater proportions categorised as probably depressed at 2 years postpartum (40% vs. 11% respectively, p < .001, phi = .33). Elevated depression symptoms at 2 years postpartum were associated with poorer partner relationships and mother-infant bonding. Moreover, there appears to be a double dose effect for women who screen positive on two occasions. Thirty-seven percent of depressed mothers did not take up treatment, frequently citing a preference for using their own resources. Limitations: Limitations include the use of self-report measures to assess depression symptoms and mother-infant bonding. Treatment data was collected retrospectively. Conclusions: Despite being offered treatment options, a substantial proportion of women who screened positive had poor long-term mental health and relationship outcomes. This paper discusses some of the implications for perinatal early detection and treatment programs.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)94-103
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
    Issue number1-3
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


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