Comparing the feasibility, acceptability, clinical-, and cost-effectiveness of mental health e-screening to paper-based screening on the detection of depression, anxiety, and psychosocial risk in pregnant women: a study protocol of a randomized, parallel-group, superiority trial Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Stress, depression, and anxiety affect 15% to 25% of pregnant women. However, substantial barriers to psychosocial assessment exist, resulting in less than 20% of prenatal care providers assessing and treating mental health problems. Moreover, pregnant women are often reluctant to disclose their mental health concerns to a healthcare provider. Identifying screening and assessment tools and procedures that are acceptable to both women and service providers, cost-effective, and clinically useful is needed. METHODS/DESIGN: The primary objective of this randomized, parallel-group, superiority trial is to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of a computer tablet-based prenatal psychosocial assessment (e-screening) compared to paper-based screening. Secondary objectives are to compare the two modes of screening on: (1) the level of detection of prenatal depression and anxiety symptoms and psychosocial risk; (2) the level of disclosure of symptoms; (3) the factors associated with feasibility, acceptability, and disclosure; (4) the psychometric properties of the e-version of the assessment tools; and (5) cost-effectiveness. A sample of 542 women will be recruited from large, primary care maternity clinics and a high-risk antenatal unit in an urban Canadian city. Pregnant women are eligible to participate if they: (1) receive care at one of the recruitment sites; (2) are able to speak/read English; (3) are willing to be randomized to e-screening; and (4) are willing to participate in a follow-up diagnostic interview within 1 week of recruitment. Allocation is by computer-generated randomization. Women in the intervention group will complete an online psychosocial assessment on a computer tablet, while those in the control group will complete the same assessment in paper-based form. All women will complete baseline questionnaires at the time of recruitment and will participate in a diagnostic interview within 1 week of recruitment. Research assistants conducting diagnostic interviews and physicians will be blinded. A qualitative descriptive study involving healthcare providers from the recruitment sites and women will provide data on feasibility and acceptability of the intervention. We hypothesize that mental health e-screening in primary care maternity settings and high-risk antenatal units will be as or more feasible, acceptable, and capable of detecting depression, anxiety, and psychosocial risk compared to paper-based screening. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Identifier: NCT01899534.


  • Kingston, Dawn
  • McDonald, Sheila
  • Biringer, Anne
  • Austin, Marie-Paule
  • Hegadoren, Kathy
  • McDonald, Sarah
  • Giallo, Rebecca
  • Ohinmaa, Arto
  • Lasiuk, Gerri
  • MacQueen, Glenda
  • Sword, Wendy
  • Lane-Smith, Marie
  • van Zanten, Sander Veldhuyzen

publication date

  • December 2014

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