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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2011 Apr;20(4):617-23. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2010.1989. Epub 2011 Mar 17.

Development of a brief measure of postpartum distress.

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  • 1University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.



Previous measures of postpartum distress have focused on depressed mood despite evidence that postpartum anxiety is just as prevalent. The purpose of this study was to develop a new, brief screening measure to identify postpartum distress, defined as symptoms of depression and anxiety.


In Study 1, potential items were assembled focusing on depressed mood and a variety of anxiety domains to develop a new postpartum distress scale. Women up to 12 months postpartum (n=289) completed the new scale items, the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale (EPDS), and the Mood and Anxiety Symptom Questionnaire (MASQ) on the Internet. In Study 2, women up to 12 months postpartum (n=139) completed the new Postpartum Distress Measure (PDM), the EPDS, the Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory-Revised (OCI-R), and the Relationship Assessment Scale (RAS) to validate the new measure.


Data from Study 1 yielded a two-factor solution, and 10 items were selected for the new PDM. Six items were chosen for the PDM general distress scale, and four items for the PDM obsessive-compulsive scale. Data from Study 2 again yielded a two-factor solution, supporting both the general distress and obsessive-compulsive components. Psychometric data suggested that the measure had adequate internal consistency and construct validity.


The 10-item PDM comprises general distress and obsessive-compulsive factors that were obtained from a wider pool of depressive and anxiety items. These data suggest that the PDM may be a helpful tool in identifying a broader range of postpartum distress, including obsessive-compulsive symptoms that were formerly neglected in clinical screening measures. More studies are needed to confirm its clinical utility.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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