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Med Sci Monit. 2010 Sep;16(9):PH77-81.

Personality traits assessed by the NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) as part of the perinatal depression screening program.

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Department of Clinical Psychology, Institute of Psychology, University of Szczecin, Szczecin, Poland.



As pre- and postnatal depression is a multifactorial disorder, the screening programmes which are currently in use in obstetric clinics remain problematic due to their inadequate standardization and limited efficacy. The evaluation of core risk factors for perinatal depression in the screening process, in addition to routine questionnaire-based tools such as the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), might improve the diagnosis and early treatment of women affected by depression. This study was undertaken to analyze the relationship between personality traits and the risk of perinatal depression in pregnant and postpartum women.


For the study, 229 patients (pregnant and postpartum women) admitted to an obstetric hospital in Poland were recruited. Two self-report questionnaires were used: the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) as a screening tool for depressive symptoms and the NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) for the evaluation of five personality traits in the studied patients.


Neuroticism significantly increased the risk of perinatal depressive symptoms in both pregnant and postpartum women (OR=1.23 and OR=1.11, respectively). Personality traits related to a lower risk of perinatal depression in the group of pregnant women included extraversion, openness to experience, high degree of agreeableness and conscientiousness (OR=0.90, OR=0.92, OR=0.90 and OR=0.91, respectively). However, among at-risk postpartum women no additional factors, except neuroticism, affected the prevalence of depressive symptoms.


Personality trait like neuroticism as measured by the NEO-FFI is associated with a greater risk of perinatal depression. The NEO-FFI is a useful tool, potentially adding significant value to the program of perinatal depression screening.

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