Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 163–169

Automated depression screening in disadvantaged pregnant women in an urban obstetric clinic

  • H. Kim
  • Y. Bracha
  • A. Tipnis
Original contribution

DOI: 10.1007/s00737-007-0189-5

Cite this article as:
Kim, H., Bracha, Y. & Tipnis, A. Arch Womens Ment Health (2007) 10: 163. doi:10.1007/s00737-007-0189-5


Objective: A promising means of screening for depression among high-risk perinatal women involves interactive voice response (IVR) technology in which patients self-enter data into a database using a touch tone telephone. Our aim was to test the feasibility of using IVR to screen for depression among low-income, urban pregnant patients and to solicit their preferences for treatment.

Methods: The study population included a convenience sample of English-speaking pregnant patients awaiting routine prenatal visits in an urban obstetric clinic. Consenting subjects used a phone in a private clinic room to complete an IVR version of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). Patients scoring in the “not depressed” range were branched to a closing message while those with mild to severe depressive symptoms were branched to additional automated questions about their treatment preferences.

Results: All 54 participants who consented to the study were able to complete the IVR phone session. More than 90% expressed willingness to complete IVR interviews as part of routine prenatal and postpartum care. Sixteen out of 54 participants (29.6%) scored in the moderate to severe range for depressive symptoms (EPDS ≥ 12) which was consistent with a prior study in the same population using a validated paper-pencil screen. Only 12 out of 21 (57%) depressed subjects indicated a desire to speak with a health care provider about how they are feeling. The majority of these depressed subjects preferred to speak with a social worker about housing or financial problems (92%) or an obstetrician or midwife (83%), while a minority (42%) wanted to speak with a mental health professional.

Conclusions: This pilot study suggests that it is feasible to use an automated phone interview to screen for depression in low-income, urban pregnant women.

Keywords: Interactive voice response (IVR); depression screening; underserved women 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Kim
    • 1
  • Y. Bracha
    • 2
  • A. Tipnis
    • 1
  1. 1.Hennepin Women’s Mental Health Program, Hennepin County Medical CenterMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Center for Urban Health, Hennepin County Medical CenterMinneapolisUSA

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