Prenatal Depression Screening by Certified Nurse-Midwives, Oregon

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Abstract

Introduction:

About 18% of pregnant women have major or minor depression during pregnancy, but many are neither screened nor treated. Lack of treatment can have serious adverse consequences for the woman and her child. Since 2002, the American College of Nurse-Midwives has advised midwives to integrate prevention, universal screening, treatment, and/or referral for depression into the care they provide. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ 2015 guidelines recommend screening at least once in the perinatal period using a standardized, validated tool. A consensus has not been reached by professional organizations about the specifics of whether and when to screen for prenatal depression. The objective of this study is to understand the prenatal screening practices of midwives who practice in Oregon.

Methods:

We surveyed all 162 Oregon-licensed certified nurse-midwives (CNMs). The survey asked about practice characteristics, demographics, screening, and perceived barriers to screening. The survey was administered electronically from October through December 2014.

Results:

The response rate was 37%. Among the 53 CNM respondents who had provided prenatal care in the previous year, 50 (94%) reported screening for prenatal depression, and 38 (72%) reported the use of a standardized screening tool on more than 90% of prenatal patients. Thirty-five (66%) CNMs reported using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. More than 60% of respondents indicated that availability of mental health services and insurance constraints were barriers to screening.

Discussion:

We explored prenatal depression screening practices of CNMs. Most Oregon CNMs use a standardized screening tool. We suggest 2 strategies to overcome barriers to screening: incorporation of a standardized screening tool into electronic medical records and negotiation with insurance companies. More research is needed to clarify when and how often pregnant women should be screened for depression and how to increase the number of women who receive treatment.

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