OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the utilization of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale as a screening tool in the public health system. METHODS: The Scale was administered between the 40th and 90th day after delivery to 245 mothers whose delivery occurred at a private maternity hospital located in the municipality of Belo Horizonte, Southeastern Brazil, from 2005 to 2006. All participants were submitted to a structured psychiatric interview (Mini-Plus 5.0), used as gold standard for postpartum depression diagnosis. The scale's sensitivity and specificity were calculated, and the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was used to find the best cut-off point. Student's t test was employed to compare numeric variables and chi-square was used for the categorical variables. Reliability was calculated by Cronbach's coefficient á of internal consistency. RESULTS: Postpartum depression was diagnosed in 66 women (26.9% of the total sample). No differences were found between women with and without postpartum depression concerning age, level of schooling, number of prior deliveries, and marital status. Using 10 as the cut-off point, the scale's sensibility was 86.4, the specificity was 91.1, and the positive predictive value, 0.78. CONCLUSIONS: The psychometric properties of the Scale characterize it as a good screening tool for postpartum depression and its disseminated use in Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS - National Health System) could have positive impacts, with a significant increase in the recognition, diagnosis and treatment of postpartum depression.
Depression, Postpartum; Triage; Psychiatric Status; Rating Scales; Sensitivity and Specificity; Validity of Tests