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Measures of suicidality in perinatal women: A systematic review

Dudeney, E. ORCID: 0000-0003-1658-703X, Coates, R. ORCID: 0000-0002-6944-6428, Ayers, S. ORCID: 0000-0002-6153-2460 & McCabe, R. ORCID: 0000-0003-2041-7383 (2023). Measures of suicidality in perinatal women: A systematic review. Journal of Affective Disorders, 324, pp. 210-231. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2022.12.091


BACKGROUND: Suicide is a leading cause of death for perinatal women. Identifying women at risk of suicide is critical. Research on the validity and/or reliability of measures assessing suicidality in perinatal women is limited. This review sought to: (1) identify; and (2) evaluate the psychometric properties of suicidality measures validated in perinatal populations.

METHODS: Nine electronic databases were systematically searched from inception to January 2022. Additional articles were identified through citation tracking. Study quality was assessed using an adapted tool, and the psychometric properties of measures were reviewed and presented using a narrative synthesis.

RESULTS: A total of 208 studies were included. Thirty-five studies reported psychometric data on ten suicidality measures. Fifteen studies reported both validity and reliability data, 12 reported more than one type of validity, seven validated more than one measure and four only reported reliability. Nearly all measures primarily screened for depression, with an item or subscale assessing suicidal ideation and/or behaviours. Three measures were specifically developed for perinatal women, but only two were validated in more than one study. The Postpartum Depression Screening Scale (PDSS), suicidal thoughts subscale, was validated most frequently.

LIMITATIONS: Methodological differences and variability between the measures (e.g., suicidality construct assessed, number of items and administration) precluded direct comparisons. CONCLUSION: Further validation of suicidality measures is needed in perinatal women. Screening for perinatal suicidality often occurs in the context of depression. The development of a standalone measure specifically assessing suicidality in perinatal women may be warranted, particularly for use in maternity care settings.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons CC-BY license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: Suicide, Perinatal, Pregnancy, Postpartum, Screening, Psychometrics
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
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