Parental depression affects as many as 1 in 5 US families. Pediatric professionals can play an important role in detecting parental depression, yet most studies on parental depression screening focus only on the postpartum period. The authors performed this scoping review to understand the existing literature on parental depression screening outside the postpartum period (child >12 months old) and to identify knowledge gaps.
Sources for this research include PubMed, CINAHL, SCOPUS, Web of Science, and APA Psych Info. We included English language papers concerning screening for maternal and/or paternal depression or mood disorders outside of the postpartum period by pediatric clinicians or in a pediatric health care setting. Extracted variables included publication year, title, author(s), country, geographic setting, clinical setting, child age range (in years), parental focus, sample size, study type, approach, screening instrument(s), and findings.
Forty-one papers were included. The proportion of positive parental depression screens was consistently high across the included studies. Relatively few structured screening programs outside of the postpartum period were identified, especially for fathers. The included studies suggest that screening can be accomplished in pediatric settings, but appropriate referral and follow-up of positive screens poses a major challenge. This review was limited to English language papers concerning parental depression outside of the postpartum period.
These findings suggest that screening for parental depressive symptoms outside the postpartum period could identify families in need of support. Research is required to identify best practices for referral and follow-up of parents who screen positive.