Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 133–140

A Screening Questionnaire for mother-infant bonding disorders


  • I. F. Brockington
    • Department of Psychiatry, University of Birmingham U.K.
  • J. Oates
    • School of Education, The Open University, Milton Keynes, U.K.
  • S. George
    • Bridge House, Birmingham, U.K.
  • D. Turner
    • South Birmingham Psychology Service, Birmingham, U.K.
  • P. Vostanis
    • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Westcotes House, Leicester, U.K.
  • M. Sullivan
    • Department of Psychiatry, University of Birmingham U.K.
  • C. Loh
    • Department of Psychiatry, University of Birmingham U.K.
  • C. Murdoch
    • Department of Psychiatry, University of Birmingham U.K.
Original contribution

DOI: 10.1007/s007370170010

Cite this article as:
Brockington, I., Oates, J., George, S. et al. Arch Womens Ment Health (2001) 3: 133. doi:10.1007/s007370170010


Background: There is a need in primary care for an easily administered instrument to give early indications of disorders in mother-infant relationships.

Methods: An 84 item questionnaire was administered to 104 subjects, including normal mothers, depressed mothers with a normal mother-infant relationship and mothers with bonding disorders. A principle component analysis was used to select items for scale construction. Scale scores were compared with interview data. Reliability, sensitivity and specificity of the scales were measured.

Findings: 4 factors of clinical relevance were obtained and used to construct 4 scales. The questionnaire was reduced to 25 questions. Scale 1 (impaired bonding) had a sensitivity of 0.93 in detecting mothers with bonding disorder. Scale 2 (rejection and anger) specifically identified mothers with severe disorders. Scale 3 may be useful in anxious mothers. Scale 4 signalled the presence of incipient abuse, requiring urgent intervention.

Interpretation: This questionnaire can be used, with the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, by midwives and health visitors, for the early diagnosis of mother-infant bonding disorders.

Keywords: Bonding disorders; postpartum depression; Self Rating Questionnaires; child abuse.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2001