Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) recently said its Ammon-Pinizzotto Center for Women’s Mental Health developed an iPhone app, the MGH Perinatal Depression Scale (MGHPDS), to help change how women are screened for post-partum depression (PPD).
The app’s questionnaire system will examine important characteristics of possible PPD including mood, anxiety, sleep and stress during and after pregnancy, a MGH release said. The questionnaire will help identify what symptoms are most important when diagnosing PPD.
“The rapid growth of mHealth in psychiatry has led to the development of a variety of web-driven screening tools for many mental health issues, yet to date there has been little attention to the use of technology to better diagnose and treat PPD,” Dr. Lee Cohen, director of the Ammon-Pinizzotto Center and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said in the release. “Further complicating matters is the wide prevalence of false positives, which occur approximately 25 percent of the time when using currently available scales.”
The free app can be downloaded via the App Store, the release said. An Android version of the app is expected to launch later this fall.
“Those who download the app and complete the included questionnaires may also consent to share their scores with researchers within our center here at MGH, further assisting in the development of an even shorter scale with greater specificity than what is currently available,” Cohen said in the release. “It is our hope that – as screening for PPD becomes increasingly common across the U.S. and globally – easy-to-use tools like the MGHPDS, which can be readily used on smartphones and other digital devices, will lead to more accurate screening of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and to improved clinical outcomes for patients.”