Developing and Validating a Perinatal Depression Screening Tool in Bungoma County, Kenya

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Background: Depression-screening tools exist and are widely used in Western settings. There have been few studies done to explore whether or not existing tools are valid and effective to use in sub-Saharan Africa. Our study aimed to develop and validate a perinatal depression-screening tool in rural Kenya.

Methods: We utilized conducted free listing and card sorting exercises with a purposive sample of 12 women and 38 CHVs living in a rural community to explore the manifestations of perinatal depression in that setting. We used the information obtained to produce a locally relevant depression-screening tool that comprised of existing Western psychiatric concepts and locally derived items. Subsequently, we administered the novel depression-screening tool and two existing screening tools (the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale and the Patient Health Questionnaire-9) to 193 women and compared the results of the screening tool with that of a gold standard structured clinical interview to determine validity.

Results: The free listing and card sorting exercise produced a set of 60 screening items. Of the items in this set, we identified the 10 items that most accurately classified cases and non-cases. This 10-item scale had a sensitivity of 100.0 and specificity of 81.2. This compared to 90.0, 31.5 and 90.0, 49.7 for the EPDS and the PHQ-9, respectively. Overall, we found a prevalence of depression of 5.2 percent.

Conclusions: The new scale does very well in terms of diagnostic validity, having the highest scores in this domain compared to the EPDS, EPDS-R and PHQ-9. The adapted scale does very well with regards to convergent validity-illustrating clear distinction between mean scores across the different categories. It does well with regards to discriminant validity, internal consistency reliability, and test-retest reliability- not securing top scores in those domains but still yielding satisfactory results.






Tuli, Hawa (2016). Developing and Validating a Perinatal Depression Screening Tool in Bungoma County, Kenya. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from


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