UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


Screening for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in Prenatal Care: Prevalence and Characteristics in a Low-Income Population

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Family Medicine and Community Health; Department of Psychiatry; Systems and Psychosocial Advances Research Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Health Services Administration | Maternal and Child Health | Obstetrics and Gynecology | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology | Women's Health


Objectives: Investigate the feasibility of using a brief, 4-item PTSD screening tool (PTSD-PC) as part of routine prenatal care in two community health care settings serving ethnically and linguistically diverse low-income populations. Report prevalence and differences by sub-threshold and clinical levels, in demographic, health, mental health, risk behaviors, and service use.

Methods: Women were screened as part of their prenatal intake visit over a 2-year period. Those screening positive at clinical or sub-threshold levels were recruited if they spoke English, Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese or Arabic. Enrolled women were interviewed about psychosocial risk factors, prior traumas, PTSD symptoms, depression, anxiety, substance use, health and services, using validated survey instruments.

Results: Of 1362 women seen for prenatal intakes, 1259 (92 %) were screened, 208 (17 %) screened positive for PTSD at clinical (11 %) or sub-threshold levels (6 %), and 149 (72 % of all eligible women) enrolled in the study. Those screening positive were significantly younger, had more prior pregnancies, were less likely to be Asian or black, and were more likely to be non-English speakers. Enrolled women at clinical as compared to sub-threshold levels showed few differences in psychosocial risk, but had significantly more types of trauma, more trauma before age 18, more interpersonal trauma, and had greater depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms. Only about 25 % had received mental health treatment.

Conclusions: The PTSD-PC was a feasible screening tool for use in prenatal care. While those screening in at clinical levels were more symptomatic, those at subthreshold levels still showed substantial symptomology and psychosocial risk.


Post-traumatic stress disorder, Pregnancy, Prenatal care, Screening

DOI of Published Version



Matern Child Health J. 2016 Oct;20(10):1995-2002. doi: 10.1007/s10995-016-2073-2. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Maternal and child health journal

PubMed ID