Screening for perinatal depression is a clinical approach to identifying women in need of mental health diagnoses, referral, and treatment. Many states mandate screening for perinatal depression, but it remains unclear whether screening leads to increased access to treatment and better health outcomes. The aim of this qualitative study was to identify how women from diverse backgrounds perceive the quality of perinatal depression screening and whether the perceived quality affected their decisions about mental health care. During 2019 a sample of twenty-nine participants who had been screened for perinatal depression completed semistructured in-depth interviews in which they were asked for their impressions of the screening process. Common themes were that the screening was ineffective because providers didn't explain the purpose or uses of the screening tool, didn't tell patients anything about the results, and failed to provide any follow-up relating to patient depression scores. The results suggest the need for health care facilities to engage patients in a dialogue about screening results and for health care delivery systems to refine the screening process. These findings offer a foundation to design more comprehensive, patient-centered screening protocols that might result in improved mental health outcomes.
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