Peripartum Mood Clinic Referral Rates Pre- and Post-COVID

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Victoria Rone, MD Rebeka Mercker, MD Nancy Githere, MPH Emma Ryan Caroline Rouse Anthony Shanks, MD, MS, MEd


Background: Peripartum depression is a common complication of pregnancy with the potential for dangerous consequences to maternal and infant health if left untreated. The COVID-19 pandemic increased the incidence of mental health disorders globally with an even greater effect on peripartum mothers. Disparities in access to mental health services may further exacerbate health care outcomes for affected individuals.

Aims: The aim of this study is to evaluate Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale (EPDS) scores pre- and post-COVID-19 to determine if mental health worsened post-COVID and assess how certain demographics were affected compared to others.

Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study of all pregnant patients referred to the Perinatal Mood Disorder Program at a large academic hospital in Indianapolis between March 1, 2019 to March 1, 2021. March 1, 2020 was the date used to determine our pre- and post-COVID groups, as it was near this time an official coronavirus outbreak was declared. Referral criteria were based on EPDS score and clinical gestalt. A convenience The sample of the population was assessed with EPDS score as the primary outcome. Demographic information including zip code of residence, psychiatric history, obstetric and newborn outcomes were also captured. Descriptive analysis, t-test and χ2 test were performed with statistical significance determined as p<0.05.

Results: There were 1,487 total pregnant patients referred with 733 referred pre-COVID and 754 post-COVID. Six hundred patients were sampled for analysis – 288 pre-COVID and 312 post-COVID. There were no statistically significant differences in age, ethnicity and race between groups. The mean EPDS score was not statistically significant between the groups (9.71 and 9.81, p 0.84). The four zip codes with the highest referral rates to the mood clinical also corresponded to areas within Indianapolis with the highest levels of poverty.

Conclusion: Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale scores were not different between pregnant patients pre- and post-COVID. There was also no difference in demographic characteristics between groups. The pandemic exacerbated existing barriers to treatment of peripartum mood disorders, highlighting the responsibility of clinicians and policymakers to support, identify, and facilitate treatment for this vulnerable population to prevent both short and long-term repercussions.

Article Details

How to Cite
RONE, Victoria et al. Peripartum Mood Clinic Referral Rates Pre- and Post-COVID. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 12, n. 6, june 2024. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 22 july 2024. doi:
Research Articles


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