Date on Paper


Document Type

Doctoral Paper

Degree Name




Committee Chair

Baker, Leann

Committee Member

Knott, Kim

Author's Keywords

postpartum depression; neonatal intensive care unit; NICU; mother; screening; Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale


BACKGROUND: While postpartum depression (PPD) is a significant problem in the postpartum population, emerging literature suggests that PPD is disproportionately concentrated and underdiagnosed among mothers of infants admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

PURPOSE: The purpose of this project was to institute a PPD screening protocol within a Level III NICU to identify mothers exhibiting signs of distress and initiate social work referrals.

METHODS: A quality improvement project implemented utilizing the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) framework and a pre-and-posttest design.

INTERVENTION: Staff education regarding PPD symptoms and the project’s protocol occurred via electronic means. Mothers of NICU infants who remained admitted at day of life 14 were screened with the Edinburg Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). Mothers scoring greater than or equal to 10 on the EPDS received a social work consult.

RESULTS: Compliance with the completion of the pre-and-posttest assessment was 64%. The increased scores of the staff knowledge and perception of PPD assessment reached statistical significance (pr=.093). A weak negative correlation was found between the maximum EPDS score and length of stay (LOS) (r=-.213). Neither correlation reached statistical significance (p=.705, p=.382, respectively).

DISCUSSION: High compliance rates within the three arms of the screening protocol demonstrate the feasibility of PPD screening in the NICU.

Keywords: postpartum depression, neonatal intensive care unit, NICU, mother, screening, Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, referral

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