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Fam Med. 2012 Nov-Dec;44(10):698-703.

Can we effectively use the two-item PHQ-2 to screen for postpartum depression?

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  • 1JFK Family Medicine Residency Program, Edison, NJ 08818, USA.



Postpartum depression screening is widely advocated to identify and treat affected individuals given the significant impact of this disorder on patients and their families. An effective, efficient method is needed to improve compliance with screening, which has led to an increased interest in the use of the two-item Patient Health Questionnaire 2 (PHQ-2). The aim of this study was to determine the sensitivity and specificity of the PHQ-2 in screening for postpartum depression.


A prospective convenience study was conducted among 200 postpartum women attending their postpartum or 4- and 6-month well-child visits at a multiethnic family medicine residency center. The sensitivity and specificity of the PHQ-2 was determined by using the well validated Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) as the gold standard. Positive responses to either scale led to further evaluation and referral.


The sensitivity of the PHQ-2 was 100%, and the specificity was 79.3% using the EPDS as the reference standard. In addition, the PHQ-2 identified an additional four/nine women who were subsequently diagnosed with postpartum depression based on follow up of their positive screens.


This study supports previous findings indicating that the PHQ-2 can be an effective tool in screening for postpartum depression.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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