Reliability and validity of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) for detecting perinatal common mental disorders (PCMDs) among women in low-and lower-middle-income countries: A systematic review

Sumitra Devi Shrestha, Rina Pradhan, Thach D. Tran, Rosa C. Gualano, Jane R W Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

137 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), originally developed in Britain, is one of the most widely used screening instruments for assessing symptoms of the Perinatal Common Mental Disorders (PCMDs) of depression and anxiety. However, its potential to detect PCMDs in culturally diverse low- and lower-middle income countries (LALMICs) is unclear. This systematic review aimed to appraise formally validated local language versions of the EPDS from these resource-constrained settings. 

Methods: Following the PRISMA protocol, we searched MEDLINE-OVID, CINAHL-Plus and PUBMED to identify studies reporting translation, cultural adaptation and formal validation of the EPDS to detect PCMDs among women in LALMICs. The quality of the studies meeting inclusion criteria was assessed using standard criteria and a new process-based criteria; which was developed specifically for this study. 

Results: We identified 1281 records among which 16 met inclusion criteria; three further papers were identified by hand-searching reference lists. The publications reported findings from 12 LALMICs in14 native languages. Most of these local language versions of the EPDS (LLV-EPDS) had lower precision for identifying true cases of PCMDs among women in the general perinatal population compared to the original English version. Only one study met all criteria for culturally sensitive translation, the others had not established the comprehensibility of the local version amongst representative groups of women in pre-testing. Many studies tested the LLV-EPDS only amongst convenience samples recruited at single health facilities. Diagnostic interviews for confirmation of mental disorders could have been influenced by the mental health professionals' lack of blinding to the initial screening results. Additionally, even when diagnostic-interviews were carried out in the local language, questions might not have been understood as most studies followed standard diagnostic protocol which had not been culturally adapted. 

Conclusions: Most of the LLV-EPDS from non-English speaking low- and middle-income-countries did not meet all criteria for formal validation of a screening instrument. Psychometric properties of LLV-EPDS could be enhanced by adopting the new process-based criteria for translation, adaptation and validation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number72
Pages (from-to)1 - 19
Number of pages19
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2016


  • Cultural equivalence
  • Edinburgh postnatal depression scale (EPDS)
  • Local language versions of the EPDS (LLV-EPDS)
  • Low- and-lower-middle-income countries (LALMICs)
  • Perinatal common mental disorders (PCMDs)
  • Reliability
  • Validity

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