Predictors of Postpartum Depression


The article “Predictors of Postpartum Depression” by Katon, Russo, and Gavin (2014) focuses on the identification of risk factors related to postnatal depression, including sociodemographic, psychosocial, psychiatric issues along with birth outcomes. This paper aims at an in-depth exploration of the mentioned research article to determine its relevance, limitations, implications, and other essential aspects that are critical to understanding the article and its contribution to the field of women’s health. Considering that post-partum depression (PPD) presents serious health risks and negatively affects maternal functioning, this topic seems to be rather significant.

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Research Question and Research Design Discussion

The authors provided the background of the problem, stating the previous research studies point out that risk factors are associated with anxiety or depression during pregnancy, low level of support, and neuroticism. With this in mind, they identified their research question as to the intent to examine the mentioned factors. Even though the research question was not specified, the article allows a reader to come up with this suggestion. In other words, the review of the existing data presented at the beginning of the given research provides the rationale and outlines the areas to be covered in the study. Based on the review, the authors designed their research question.

The quantitative research design was used by the authors to conduct the study and analyze the results. In particular, they applied a prospective cohort study based on the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), and the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9). The statistical means were used to analyze the data collected from the participants. The selected research design seems to be the most appropriate since it helps to explore the health issues more deeply based on facts and statistics, which, in turn, leads to more credible results. Compared to the qualitative research design method, it is more accurate and objective. While the alternative focuses on interviews and observations, the chosen research design allows providing more trustful information based on medical history and indicators. The above points compose the strengths of this method. Among its weaknesses, one may note the limited capacity to involve human attitudes and concerns as well as any other verbal data. Thus, the authors selected the most relevant research design.

Sample and Data Collection Method

As for the sample of the identified article, 3,039 women at four and eight months of pregnancy were included in the study. Such a sample size can be regarded as sufficient for this study as it allowed the authors to provide some generalized conclusions and results. The eligibility criteria were the obstetrical care, 6-week postpartum follow-up, and at least one survey completed by the patient. The exclusion criteria were the age under 15 of women at the moment of delivery and the inability to complete the survey because of language challenges. The total number of participants was 1,423 women who met the described criteria. Compared to the intent of the study along with the research question, the above number of participants is adequate to receive proper answers. No gaps in the sample size were revealed during the article critique.

Data collection was based on questionnaires, namely, PHQ-9 tool. The Washington University’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic and Obstetrics Inpatient Service were responsible for providing this research, while the University of Washington Human Subjects Institutional Review Board approved the procedures. More to the point, taking into account that specific persons are to conduct the study, Katon et al. (2014) may also be noted as the key authors. The ethical considerations were not clearly stated. Therefore, it is not possible to evaluate the terms of privacy and confidentiality, which is the evident limitation of the study.

Limitations and Findings

The strong points of the given research article are adequate sample size, the relevant health care issue, and the comprehensive approach to studying a full range of PPD depression. Even though this article seems to be quite successful in addressing the mentioned health care problem, it still has some limitations. The first limitation refers to the inclusion of only one clinic in one geographical area, thus making it hardly possible to generalize the results for other geographical areas on a global scale. The second limitation is associated with the lack of initiating structured psychiatric interviews with the participants to identify any previous episodes of depression.

The lack of evaluating and including body mass index (BMI) or social support criteria compose the third limitation. In further studies, the above limitations may be eliminated by including the lacking elements and focusing on wider geographical areas and several clinics. The limitations are important to discuss within the research and the article critique as they indicate the authors’ awareness and objectivity and the scale of the research. Limiting the study, the authors focus their attention and may properly investigate the problem in terms of the determined settings.

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The results of the study show that a depressive symptom in pregnancy is the key predictor of PPD. At the same time, women with adverse medical disorders and smoking history are more prone to PPD than others. Both medical and psychiatric disorders increase the risk of the mentioned health issue and may cause diabetes, obesity, and difficulties in quitting smoking. Psychological and social vulnerabilities also proved to be adverse in pregnancy and promoting PPD. The credibility of the findings is high as the article presents all procedures and data so that a reader may easily access them. The results fully answer the research question since they enlighten each area stated at the beginning of the research. It is safe to assume that the research results may be implemented into practice after additional studies to help women to prevent PPD through such specific measures as quitting smoking, avoiding stress and depression, unemployment during pregnancy along with preventing younger age pregnancy. In general, the findings discovered by the authors are appropriate and credible.


In sum, the article “Predictors of Postpartum Depression” conducted by Katon et al. (2014) discusses the factors causing PPD and suggests that younger age pregnancy, smoking, social, physical, and psychological stress and anxiety, chronic diseases, unemployment, and taking antidepressants are high-risk factors. The findings correspond to the research question and answer it. Utilizing the quantitative research questions, the authors provide the prospective cohort study, including 1,423 women from Washington University’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic and Obstetrics Inpatient Service.

Even though the study has an adequate sample size and discusses the important issue, there are such limitations as one clinic and the lack of BMI or social support as well as structured psychiatric interviews. Based on this study, one may claim that the evidence is not strong enough to change the existing practice. There is a need to conduct further research eliminating the limitations and deepening the study by involving more health indicators. After that, it would be possible to implement the proposed changes. To conclude, this research article presents a rather significant issue of PPD predictors such as sociodemographic and clinical risk factors that would be helpful for health care providers in anticipating depression in women during and after pregnancy.


Katon, W., Russo, J., & Gavin, A. (2014). Predictors of postpartum depression. Journal of Women’s Health, 23(9), 753-759. Web.

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StudyCorgi. "Predictors of Postpartum Depression." March 18, 2021.


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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Predictors of Postpartum Depression'. 18 March.

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