Perinatal depression screening. Diagnosis, prevention and early intervention in primary healthcare

Project facts

Project promoter:
Universidade de Coimbra
Project Number:
Target groups
Young adults,
People with mental health problems
Initial project cost:
Final project cost:
From EEA Grants:
€ 162,657
The project is carried out in:

More information


Perinatal depression (PD) is a public health concern (Austin et al. 2014). Without screening programs less than 10% of women receive treatment. Universal psychosocial assessment programs that combine the evaluation of psychological risk factors and the detection of depression are recommended. Main goals: to analyze the predictive ability of a new instrument (Perinatal Depression Screening and Prevention Tool) assessing both PD symptoms and risk factors previously validated/identified by our team; to test the effectiveness of early intervention/prevention programs for antenatal depression (randomized controlled studies). The instrument and a diagnostic interview will be administered to ≈ 500 pregnant women, recruited in all the Coimbra Council primary healthcare centers and maternity hospitals. The effectiveness of the program will be tested at 5 weeks, 3 and 6 months postpartum. We will provide training to the primary healthcare providers focusing on the PD screening, prevention, early intervention and treatment strategies.

Summary of project results

Perinatal depression (PD) is a serious public health problem, due to its consequences to the well-being of the family, development and health of the children, as well as the costs to the society. As a public health problem Perinatal Depression demands from the health professionals, researchers and clinicians, actions in order to improve its detection and treatment. In Portugal there wasn´t developed and implemented any systematic screening program of perinatal depression. This project allowed develops, for the first time in Portugal, a program of prevention and intervention in perinatal depression and anxiety, specifically oriented to its main risk factors. The development of the manual of the program Mother in Me (MIM) and the development of support materials to its implementation, to the health professional, and to the pregnant woman, facilitating the implementation of education actions in the scope of the program and encourages its implementation at the Primary health care services. The project, analyzed the predictive ability of a new perinatal depression screening instrument (Perinatal Depression Screening and Prevention Tool / PDSPTool) in 600 Women on the second Pregnancy Trimester, recruited in primary health care center Region, contributing to a diagnostic differentiation with Women with this pathology and to improvement of the Public Health in Portugal, showing that the PDSPTool has a predictive power acceptable. Perinatal Depression Screening, Diagnosis, Prevention and Early Intervention in Primary Healthcare, had a strong dissemination at the ambit of communication and scientific publication (national and international) and education actions. The addressing the absence of a tool for the updated, valid and reliable diagnostic classification, according the DSM-5, also contributed enormously for the epidemiological, clinical and basic research of the mental disorders which are more prevalent and have the higher negative impact not only at the perinatal period but also during the life cycle. The actions and tasks that the project developed contributed to improving the situation of Portugal with regard to the needs identified in the program, namely, lack of relevant information for planning public health programs and tools for assessing its effectiveness and lack of disclosure and dissemination of good practices.

Summary of bilateral results

Unfortunately, due to time constraints to achieve the main established objectives during the execution time, it was not possible to realize a work mission to the University of Oslo, to present our results and receive supervision (as originally planned). Nonetheless, it is intention of the promoter to apply to the programme financed by the Bilateral Relations Fund PT06 (EEA Grants), in the sense of straightening our partnership and collaboration with the donor country. We are presently establishing contact with professor Malin Eberhard-Gran in order to prepare the application together.