Document Type



Brain and Mind Institute


Abstract: Depression is a leading cause of maternal morbidity and mortality worldwide and the most common complication of the perinatal period. Women in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are disproportionately impacted by perinatal depression. Maternal and child health (MCH) clinics are widely attended in SSA, offering a potential access point for depression screening. Yet, selection of optimal depression screening instruments for use within MCH clinics in SSA remains unclear. We synthesized evidence depicting relative strength of perinatal depression screening scales for use among African perinatal women within four evaluation domains: 1) diagnostic performance, 2) cultural adaptation, 3) feasibility and ease of implementation, 4) experience using the tool in SSA perinatal populations. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) had the most evidence among peripartum women in SSA, and a balance of feasibility, diagnostic performance metrics, and cultural adaptations. Other depressive screening instruments developed for general populations show strengths for application in African perinatal populations in at least one evaluation domain. Building health services capacity to integrate depression screening within routine MCH visits is an important next step to address perinatal depression in SSA.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.


SSM-mental health

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.