Implementing Routine Screening for Postpartum PTSD | Categories Poster

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Title: Implementing Routine Screening for Postpartum PTSD
Presenter: Sara Webb, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC, University of Utah College of Nursing
Project Chair: Scott Christensen, MBA, DNP, University of Utah College of Nursing
Date: 5/14/20
Brief Description: Providers are invested in screening for postpartum PTSD to improve identification and treatment. Implementing routine screening is feasible and effective as long as key barriers are addressed.  
Keywords/Main Subjects: Postpartum PTSD, screening, certified nurse midwives (CNM)
Copyright: copyright Sara Webb ©2020



Postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop following traumatic childbirth. Despite significant impacts on mental health, postpartum PTSD it is not routinely screened for or treated. The purpose of this DNP project was for healthcare providers to screen for postpartum PTSD and help patients access needed treatment.


This quality improvement project examined the feasibility of implementing routine screening for postpartum PTSD using the City Birth Trauma Scale. Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) in a women’s health practice participated in an education session about postpartum PTSD and the screening tool, which was then given at the two-and six-week postpartum visits. Providers were surveyed before and after to compare confidence in diagnosing PTSDand willingness to implement the screening program.


Significant increases were observed in confidence in diagnosing postpartum PTSD, confidence in discussing symptoms with patients, knowing when and how to refer patients with a positive screening, confidence in collaborating with a psychiatric provider, and confidence that patients could receive needed treatment. During the screening period, 53.10% of eligible patients received the screening. Of those, 23.38% screened positive for possible postpartum PTSD. Nine accepted the referral and nine patients declined the referral.


CNMs in this women’s health practice strongly believe in the importance of screening for postpartum PTSD and a screening program can be successfully implemented. Educating CNMs about the symptoms, diagnostic criteria, and effects of postpartum PTSD likely contributed to significant increases in provider confidence when addressing these areas with patients.