OBJECTIVES. The goals were (1) to determine the feasibility and yield of maternal depression screening during all well-child visits, (2) to understand how pediatricians and mothers respond to depression screening information, and (3) to assess the time required for discussion of screening results.
METHODS. Implementation of brief depression screening of mothers at well-child visits for children of all ages was studied in 3 rural pediatric practices. Two screening trials introduced screening (1 month) and then determined whether screening could be sustained (6 months). Screening used the 2-question Patient Health Questionnaire. Practices tracked the proportions of visits screened and provided data about the screening process.
RESULTS. Practices were able to screen in the majority of well-child visits (74% in trial 1 and 67% in trial 2). Of 1398 mothers screened, 17% had 1 of the depressive symptoms and 6% (n = 88) scored as being at risk for a major depressive disorder. During discussion, 5.7% of all mothers thought they might be depressed and 4.7% thought they were stressed but not depressed. Pediatric clinicians intervened with 62.4% of mothers who screened positive and 38.2% of mothers with lesser symptoms. Pediatrician actions included discussion of the impact on the child, a follow-up visit or call, and referral to an adult primary care provider, a mental health clinician, or community supports. Pediatrician time needed to discuss screening results decreased in the second trial. Prolonged discussion time was uncommon (5–10 minutes in 3% of all well-child visits and >10 minutes in 2%).
CONCLUSIONS. Routine, brief, maternal depression screening conducted during well-child visits was feasible and detected mothers who were willing to discuss depression and stress issues with their pediatrician. The discussion after screening revealed additional mothers who felt depressed among those with lesser symptoms. The additional discussion time was usually brief and resulted in specific pediatrician actions.