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Parental Well-Being Project

Parental depression, especially among mothers, has major short- and long-term impact on the developmental, emotional, and behavioral health of children.

Clinicians caring for the child may be the health care professional that has the most contact with many parents. The clinician at a child's well visit can play a key role.

The Parental Well-Being Project sought to develop a practical approach for clinicians to routinely screen for depression at all well child visits and to help parents. The project included: a simple, brief paper screener; clinician training and materials to guide discussion and referral; and telephone counseling support for mothers with depressive symptoms. It was funded by The Commonwealth Fund.

Research findings

Our research found that:

  • Use of a paper-based two-question depression screen had a greater yield than with verbal inquiry.
  • Over 9,000 parents (90% mothers) were screened at their child's health visits over 6 months. It was feasible to include in well visits, and well received by parents.
  • Six percent of mothers and five percent of mothers in New Hampshire and Vermont during well visits of all ages screened positive and were at risk for major depression.
  • In 90% of encounters discussion of results took less than 3 minutes.

Parental depression screening dissemination

A full range of supports for practices to implement parental depression screening at child well visits is available through The Commonwealth Fund. It includes guidance in how to set up an office system to screen and help parents, screening tools, office posters, and parent handouts. Access the materials on The Commonwealth Fund website.