Is low literacy a risk factor for symptoms of depression in postpartum women?

Barry D. Weiss, Carole P. Sheehan, Lisa Lee Gushwa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


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 ≥ 9 to indicate symptoms of postpartum depression. Analysis determined if EPDS scores ≥ 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 ≥ 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)563-568
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Reproductive Medicine for the Obstetrician and Gynecologist
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Depression
  • Literacy
  • Postpartum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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