Errors in scoring the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression scale

Stephen Matthey*, Charmian Lee, Rudi Črnčec, Tania Trapolini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined the errors made by clinicians when scoring the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). This measure has items with reverse scoring that may increase the likelihood of errors being made. Four hundred ninety-six EPDS forms from client files in four clinical services were examined for item scoring errors and addition errors. Clinicians (N = 22) from the four services were also surveyed as to what rate of errors they expected the study would find and what rate would be unacceptable. Errors of either type were present in between 13.4 and 28.9 % of forms across the four sites. These error rates were greater than most of the surveyed clinicians expected and were at a level that was considered by most to be problematic. However, the error rates did not have a meaningful impact on the rates of women scoring above various cutoff scores often used with the EPDS. The EPDS is often incorrectly scored by practitioners at a level that is of concern to clinicians of these services. Clinical teams should adopt the use of scoring templates and a double adding-up procedure when using measures such as the EPDS as a way that may reduce such scoring errors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-122
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Women's Mental Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Edinburgh Scale
  • Perinatal mental health
  • Postnatal depression
  • Scoring errors
  • Screening


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