City Birth Trauma Scale recommended to diagnose postpartum PTSD

on 03 January 2020

A study has evaluated and recommended the City Birth Trauma Scale which is the only questionnaire developed to diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in women following childbirth.

The Scale was developed by academics at the City, University of London and uses the current criteria for PTSD outlined by the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

The study of the Scale was conducted by the Catholic University of Croatia and City, University of London which saw 603 first-time mothers in Croatia, who had given birth within the previous 12 months, being surveyed using the Scale.

‘Yes’ and ‘no’ questions such as ‘Did you believe you or your baby would be seriously injured?’ and choice answers (0 – not at all, 1 – once, 2 – two to four times, and 3 – five or more times’) are used in the City Birth Trauma Scale.

To validate the Scale, mothers were also surveyed with widely used and validated questionnaires relating to the process of traumatic events (IES-R Scale), depression (EPD scale) and anxiety (subscale from the DASS-21 Scale).

The results of the study confirmed that the grouping of measures on the Scale into birth-related symptoms and general symptoms of PTSD could be used independently or together to accurately explain the responses of the new mothers who participated in the study.

The grouping of measures was used to show that the high-risk groups including first-time mothers, and those who has instrumental vaginal delivery or emergency caesarean section reported more PTSD symptoms than those who did not.

The City Birth Trauma Scale was found to be reliable and a valid measure for the diagnosis of postpartum PTSD.

Principal Investigator of the study and Professor of Child and Maternal Health at City, University of London, Susan Ayers, said: “Since we published the City Birth Trauma Scale in 2018, I’ve been struck by how many people have contacted us and asked to use the scale, which shows just how needed it was.

“The scale has already been translated into 10 languages and research studies in the UK, Israel, and now Croatia, found the scale has similar properties in different populations so is a reliable measure of PTSD after birth.”

Source: City, University of London