BACKGROUND: Screening for peripartum depression is widely recommended and should now be the standard of care. However, little research exists on peripartum anxiety screening. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to assess whether adding perinatal anxiety screening would increase the identification of women who would benefit from mental health support. STUDY DESIGN: The existing practice at our clinic was depression screening via the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 at all prenatal visits; screenings were prospectively tracked for 3 months in women presenting for visit at 24-28 weeks gestation (Patient Health Questionnaire-2-only group). We then added Generalized Anxiety Disorder 2-item validated anxiety scale assessment to prenatal visits at 24-28 weeks gestation (Patient Health Questionnaire-2+Generalized Anxiety Disorder 2-item group). Our primary study outcome was the rate of positive depression and anxiety screens during pregnancy; secondary outcomes included referral rates to mental health services and obstetric and medical outcomes. RESULTS: A total of 100 women with visits at 24-28 weeks gestation were eligible to be screened during the Patient Health Questionnaire-2-only period; 125 women were eligible for screening during the Patient Health Questionnaire-2+Generalized Anxiety Disorder 2-item period. In the Patient Health Questionnaire-2-only group, 51 women were screened, with 2 positive depression screens. In the Patient Health Questionnaire-2+Generalized Anxiety Disorder 2-item group, 40 women were screened, with 5 positive screens for depression and 4 for anxiety. Three women who were anxiety-positive had been negative via depression screening. Mental health referral was not different between the 2 groups (odds ratio, 1.75; 95% confidence interval, 0.76-4.97), but a significant increase in referral was noted for Patient Health Questionnaire-2+Generalized Anxiety Disorder 2-item subgroups with a history of mental health diagnosis (odds ratio, 14.9; 95% confidence interval, 5.6-39.7) or substance abuse (odds ratio, 26.7; 95% confidence interval, 4.6-155.0). CONCLUSION: Screening for perinatal anxiety may increase referral rates to mental health professionals who can then diagnose and treat women who experience mood and anxiety disorders. Anxiety screening may be particularly useful in populations with a history of mental health diagnoses or substance abuse. Further research is necessary to understand how perinatal anxiety screening should be best implemented.
- mental health
ASJC Scopus subject areas