Screening for perinatal depression and predictors of underscreening: findings of the Born in Queensland study

Julia V Marley, Emma Carlin and Catherine Engelke
Med J Aust 2019; 211 (4): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.50257
Published online: 19 August 2019

To the Editor: We agree with San Martin Porter and colleagues1 about the importance of mental health screening during pregnancy and acknowledge the role of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) in screening in Australia and internationally. In the article, the authors stressed that the EPDS has been validated. However, the high heterogeneity demonstrated during these validation studies suggests that it is not equally valid across all populations and settings.2 The authors also suggested that low uptake of screening with Aboriginal women is related to less frequent attendance to antenatal checks. This interpretation fails to consider broader cultural safety issues surrounding antenatal care, and more specifically, the language and cultural appropriateness of the EPDS.3 This tool has not been validated with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Many Aboriginal women find the EPDS language complex and confusing, and providers find using it with Aboriginal women challenging.3 Screening processes need to be acceptable to patients and staff, and seen to be easy to use and helpful, or they are unlikely to be well implemented. The need to consider the language and cultural appropriateness of the tool used was acknowledged in the latest Clinical practice guidelines: pregnancy care.4

  • 1 Rural Clinical School of Western Australia, University of Western Australia, Broome, WA.
  • 2 Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, Broome, WA.
  • 3 Rural Clinical School of Western Australia, University of Western Australia, Kununurra, WA.


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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