Original contribution

Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 133-140

First online:

A Screening Questionnaire for mother-infant bonding disorders

  • I. F. BrockingtonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Birmingham U.K.
  • , J. OatesAffiliated withSchool of Education, The Open University, Milton Keynes, U.K.
  • , S. GeorgeAffiliated withBridge House, Birmingham, U.K.
  • , D. TurnerAffiliated withSouth Birmingham Psychology Service, Birmingham, U.K.
  • , P. VostanisAffiliated withChild and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Westcotes House, Leicester, U.K.
  • , M. SullivanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Birmingham U.K.
  • , C. LohAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Birmingham U.K.
  • , C. MurdochAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Birmingham U.K.

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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.