Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 17, Issue 7, pp 1277-1287

First online:

Relationships of Race and Socioeconomic Status to Postpartum Depressive Symptoms in Rural African American and Non-Hispanic White Women

  • Christyn L. DolbierAffiliated withEast Carolina University Email author 
  • , Taylor E. RushAffiliated withEast Carolina University
  • , Latoya S. SahadeoAffiliated withUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • , Michele L. ShafferAffiliated withPenn State Hershey College of Medicine
  • , John ThorpAffiliated withUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • , The Community Child Health Network Investigators

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This study examines the potential racial disparity in postpartum depression (PPD) symptoms among a cohort of non-Hispanic white and African American women after taking into consideration the influence of socioeconomic status (SES). Participants (N = 299) were recruited from maternity clinics serving rural counties, with oversampling of low SES and African Americans. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) was administered 1 and 6 months postpartum, and subjective SES scale at 6 months postpartum. Demographic information was collected during enrollment and 1 month postpartum, with updates at 6 months postpartum. Separate logistic regressions were conducted for 1 and 6 month time points for minor-major PPD (EPDS ≥ 10) and major PPD (EPDS > 12); with marital status, poverty, education, subjective SES, and race predictors entered in block sequence. After including all other predictors, race was not a significant predictor of minor-major or major PPD at 1 or 6 months postpartum. Subjective SES was the most consistent predictor of PPD, being significantly associated with minor-major PPD and major PPD at 6 months postpartum, with higher subjective SES indicating lower odds of PPD, even after accounting for all other predictors. This study shows that significant racial disparities were not observed for minor-major or major PPD criteria at 1 or 6 months postpartum. The most consistent and significant predictor of PPD was subjective SES. Implications of these findings for future research, as well as PPD screening and intervention are discussed.


Postpartum depression Race Subjective socioeconomic status Health disparity Objective socioeconomic status