Rating scale item assessment of self-harm in postpartum women: a cross-sectional analysis

Jessica L. Coker, Shanti P. Tripathi, Bettina T. Knight, Page B. Pennell, Everett F. Magann, D. Jeffrey Newport, Zachary N. Stowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We examined the utility of screening instruments to identify risk factors for suicidal ideation (SI) in a population of women with neuropsychiatric illnesses at high risk for postpartum depression. Pregnant women with neuropsychiatric illness enrolled prior to 20 weeks of gestation. Follow-up visits at 4–8-week intervals through 13 weeks postpartum included assessment of depressive symptoms with both clinician and self-rated scales. A total of 842 women were included in the study. Up to 22.3% of postpartum women admitted SI on rating scales, despite the majority (79%) receiving active pharmacological treatment for psychiatric illness. Postpartum women admitting self-harm/SI were more likely to meet criteria for current major depressive episode (MDE), less than college education, an unplanned pregnancy, a history of past suicide attempt, and a higher score on the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. In women with a history of neuropsychiatric illness, over 20% admitted SI during the postpartum period despite ongoing psychiatric treatment. Patient-rated depression scales are more sensitive screening tools than a clinician-rated depression scale for +SI in the postpartum period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)687-694
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Women's Mental Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Postpartum
  • Risk factors
  • Suicidal ideation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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