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Original research
Using computerised adaptive tests to screen for perinatal depression in underserved women of colour


Background Compared with traditional screening questionnaires, computerised adaptive tests for severity of depression (CAT-DI) and computerised adaptive diagnostic modules for depression (CAD-MDD) show improved precision in screening for major depressive disorder. CAT measures have been tailored to perinatal women but have not been studied in low-income women of colour despite high rates of perinatal depression (PND).

Objective This study aimed to examine the concordance between CAT and traditional measures of depression in a sample of primarily low-income black and Latina women.

Methods In total, 373 women (49% black; 29% Latina) completed the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), CAD-MDD and CAT-DI at 845 visits across pregnancy and postpartum. We examined the concordance between continuous CAT-DI and PHQ-9 scores and between binary measures of PND diagnosis on CAD-MDD and the PHQ-9 (cut-off score >10). We examined cases with a positive PND diagnosis on the CAD-MDD but not on the PHQ-9 (‘missed’ cases) to determine whether clinic notes were consistent with CAD-MDD results.

Findings CAT-DI and PHQ-9 scores were significantly associated (concordance correlation coefficient=0.67; 95% CI 0.58 to 0.74). CAD-MDD detected 5% more case of PND compared with PHQ-9 (p<0.001). The average per-visit rate of PND was 14.4% (14.5% in blacks, 14.9% in Latinas) on the CAD-MDD, and 9.5% (9.8% in blacks, 8.8% in Latinas) on the PHQ-9. Clinical notes were available on 60% of ‘missed’ cases and validated CAD-MDD PND diagnosis in 89% of cases.

Conclusions CAD-MDD detected 5% more cases of PND in women of colour compared with traditional tests, and the majority of these cases were verified by clinician notes.

Clinical implications Use of CAT in routine clinic care may address health disparities in PND screening.

  • depression & mood disorders
  • adult psychiatry
  • anxiety disorders

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request.

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