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BACKGROUND: Identifying women with perinatal anxiety is important in order to provide timely support and prevent adverse outcomes. Self-report instruments are commonly used in maternity settings. An alternative is to ask women directly whether they self-identify as having anxiety. We examine the agreement between self-reported and self-identified anxiety at 3 months postpartum and compare the characteristics of women with self-reported and self-identified anxiety. METHODS: A secondary analysis of national maternity surveys conducted in 2014 in England and Northern Ireland was conducted. Self-reported anxiety was assessed using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale anxiety subscale (EPDS-3A). Agreement between self-reported and self-identified anxiety was measured using Cohen's kappa. Logistic regression was used to identify characteristics of women in each group. RESULTS: In our sample of 6752 women, 14.2% had self-reported anxiety, 5.9% had self-identified anxiety and 3.5% were positive on both measures. Among those with self-identified anxiety, 58.1% also had self-reported anxiety. Of those with self-reported anxiety, 24.4% also had self-identified anxiety. Statistical agreement between the two measures was minimal with Cohen's kappa 0.283 at an EPDS-3A threshold of ≥6. Among both self-identified and self-reported anxiety groups, psychological factors were the strongest associated factors. Women with self-reported anxiety had higher odds of being from Northern Ireland (OR 1.81); having a mixed or unhappy reaction to the pregnancy (OR 1.65); living without a partner (aOR 1.37); and antenatal depression (aOR 1.32). Women with self-identified anxiety had higher odds of physical problems (OR 1.84); and being of Black or minority ethnicity (OR 0.39). CONCLUSIONS: Asking postnatal women directly whether they self-identify as having anxiety identifies a different group of women from those who score highly on self-report measures. Women with self-identified anxiety may benefit from further follow-up and support.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Pregnancy Childbirth

Publication Date





Anxiety, Edinburgh postnatal depression scale (EPDS), Perinatal, Screening, Self-identified, Self-reported, Adult, Anxiety, England, Female, Humans, Northern Ireland, Postpartum Period, Prevalence, Psychiatric Status Rating Scales, Self Report, Self-Assessment