Prevalence, continuation, and identification of postpartum depressive symptomatology among refugee, asylum-seeking, non-refugee immigrant, and Canadian-born women: results from a prospective cohort study

Author(s): Cindy-Lee DENNIS ; Lisa MERRY ; Donna STEWART ; Anita J. GAGNON


This study assessed the prevalence, continuation, and identification of maternal depressive symptomatology over the first 16 weeks postpartum among refugee, asylum-seeking, non-refugee immigrant, and Canadian-born women. A sample of 1125 women (143 refugees, 369 asylum-seekers, 303 non-refugee immigrant, and 310 Canadian-born) completed the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) at 1 and 16 weeks postpartum. The sensitivity, specificity, and predictive power of the 1-week EPDS to identify women with elevated EPDS scores at 16 weeks were determined. The total number of women with EPDS scores >9 for each group at 1 and 16 weeks, respectively, was 26.6 and 18.2 % for refugees; 25.2 and 24.1 % for asylum-seekers; 22.4 and 14.2 % for non-refugee immigrants, and 14.8 and 7.4 % for Canadian-born. Using the cut-off score of 9/10, the 1-week EPDS accurately classified 77.6 % refugee, 73.4 % asylum-seeking, 76.6 % non-refugee immigrant, and 85.5 % Canadian-born women at 16 weeks with or without postpartum depressive symptomatology. The 1-week EPDS was significantly correlated to the 16-week EPDS (r = 0.46, p < 0.01). All groups were significantly more likely to exhibit depressive symptomatology at 16 weeks if they had EPDS scores >9 at 1 week postpartum: refugees (OR = 6.9, 95 % CI = 2.8–17.3), asylum-seekers (OR = 4.0, 95 % CI = 2.4–6.7), non-refugee immigrants (OR = 3.8, 95 % CI = 2.0–7.6), and Canadian-born women (OR = 8.0, 95 % CI = 3.3–19.8). Our findings suggest that refugee, asylum-seeking, non-refugee immigrant, and Canadian-born women at risk of postpartum depression may be identified early in the postpartum period such that secondary preventive interventions may be implemented.


Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), Postpartum depression screening, Predictive validity, Sensitivity and specificity, Migrant women

Tags: Canada, Women, Refugees, Immigrants, Asylum seekers, Postpartum depression

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