Screening for depression in pregnancy: Characteristics of the beck depression inventory

William L. Holcomb, Laura S. Stone, Patrick J. Lustman, Jeffrey A. Gavard, Dorothea J. Mostello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the test characteristics of a self-report questionnaire, the Beck Depression Inventory, when used as a screening test for depression in a population of ambulatory pregnant women. Methods: One hundred five pregnant women completed the Beck Depression Inventory and underwent a structured interview using the National Institute of Menial Health Diagnostic Interview Schedule-version III. Current depression was diagnosed according to the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-III-R. A receiver operating characteristic curve was constructed for the Beck Depression Inventory score as a predictor of current depression. A table of sensitivities, specificities, predictive values, and likelihood ratios was created for various cutoff values. Results: For the 105 women enrolled, the median Beck Depression Inventory score was 8.0. Twelve women (11%) were diagnosed with current depression and had a median Beck Depression Inventory score of 25.5, compared with those without current depression, who had a median score of 8.0 (P = .001). The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.9940. Using a cutoff range of greater than 16, the sensitivity of the Beck Depression Inventory to detect current depression was 0.83, the specificity was 0.89, the positive predictive value was 0.50, and the negative predictive value was 0.98. Conclusions: The Beck Depression Inventory can serve as a rapid screening test for depression during pregnancy. A higher cutoff value is required for pregnant women than is customarily used outside of pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1021-1025
Number of pages5
JournalObstetrics and gynecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1996


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