Global WACh

July 14, 2021

Research Assistant Anna Larsen virtually presents analysis of depressive screening tools among postpartum Kenyan women

Global WACh Research Assistant Anna Larsen (2nd row, left) presented research findings at the Society for Epidemiologic Research in June 2021.


Anna Larsen, Global WACh Research Assistant and PhD Candidate in the Department of Epidemiology, participated in a panel entitled, “Mental Health: Recent trends, advances in measurement, and racial/ethnic patterns” at the 2021 Society for Epidemiologic Research on June 23, 2021.

Her presentation entitled, “Epidemiologic evaluation of three depression screening tools among postpartum Kenyan women,” highlighted results from a comparative analysis of three depressive symptom screening tools used in the PrEP Implementation for Mothers in Antenatal Care (PrIMA) study.  The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale [CESD-10], Patient Health Questionnaire-2 [PHQ-2], and Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale [EPDS] were utilized by the study team to screen for depressive symptoms among postpartum Kenyan women.

The three depression screening tools varied in detection of postpartum moderate-to-severe depression which could lead to >2-fold difference in referrals for appropriate behavioral health resources.  Results showed that the PHQ-2 prompted fewer referrals while retaining the best diagnostic performance to detect major depressive disorder and strong epidemiologic association with a known cofactor of postpartum depression (intimate partner violence). The data suggests that the PHQ-2 screening optimizes feasibility and accuracy of detecting depressive symptoms in postpartum women.

This work contributes to Anna’s doctoral dissertation in epidemiology and underscores the importance of systematically identifying depression early during the postpartum period with effective screening instruments.  Left untreated, depression and other mood disorders can have harmful consequences on a mother’s ability to bond with their infant for optimal cognitive and physical development.  The full results of Anna and the study team’s work will be soon available in a published manuscript.  Other forthcoming analyses will comprehensively characterize perinatal depression longitudinally from pregnancy through 9 months postpartum, and identify associations with adverse birth outcomes, such as low birth weight and preterm birth.