Author(s): Weiss BD, Sheehan CP, Gushwa LL
OBJECTIVE: To determine if postpartum women with limited literacy are at higher risk for depression symptoms than women with adequate literacy. STUDY DESIGN: We interviewed women during their postpartum hospitalization following delivery of a healthy infant to collect baseline demographic data and assess literacy skills. We contacted these women by phone 6-10 weeks postpartum and administered the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), using scores > or = 9 to indicate symptoms of postpartum depression. Analysis determined if EPDS scores > or = 9 were more frequent among women with low vs. higher literacy. RESULTS: Of 235 women interviewed in the hospital, 138 (58.7%) were interviewed 6-10 weeks postpartum and completed the EPDS. The rate of EPDS scores > or = 9 was 26.1% among women with limited literacy vs. 8.8% among women with higher literacy (p = 0.018). On multivariable analysis that considered confounding variables, low literacy retained its significant relationship with symptoms of postpartum depression (OR 3.45, 95% CI 1.02-11.82). CONCLUSION: Based on results of this preliminary study, low literacy may be a risk factor for symptoms of postpartum depression.