Development and Validation of the Perinatal Mental Health Literacy Scale among Latinas

Irma Y Torres-Catanach, University of Texas at El Paso


Psychiatric disorders in pregnancy and in the first year after childbirth are considered a significant health complication of the perinatal period (O’Hara & Wisner, 2014). The prevalence of perinatal mood disorders has been shown to be higher among women from racial/ethnic minority groups (Gavin et al., 2011; Melville et al., 2010). As the largest racial/ethnic minority group in the U.S., Latinas are disproportionately affected by these disparities. Despite the volume of research examining the prevalence of and treatment for perinatal psychiatric disorders, there is a dearth of knowledge focused on educational approaches that aim to reduce perinatal mental health disparities. One way to reduce these disparities is to characterize gaps in perinatal mental health knowledge among specific high-risk groups, and target gaps in knowledge to improve symptom reporting and mental health care utilization. The purpose of this study was to test the psychometric properties of a new survey instrument called the Perinatal Mental Health Literacy Scale (PMHLS), developed to address a gap in the literature. The 34-item PMHLS, written in English and Spanish, further contributes to the small number of instruments currently validated for U.S. Latino populations. The standardization of the PMHLS in English and Spanish was completed in two phases. In the first phase, a sample of N = 529 Hispanic females of childbearing age completed the preliminary PMHLS (N = 269 English, and N = 260 Spanish). Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA), a statistical procedure that reduces a large number of variables into smaller sets of correlated factors, was used to provide evidence of construct validity for this new scale. EFA results suggested that a 27-item, 6-factor model best defined the perinatal mental health literacy construct for both the English and Spanish PMHLS. Reliability analyses showed that the 27 items were a reliable measure of perinatal mental health literacy construct. Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA), another test of construct validity, was conducted with a different sample of Hispanic female participants (N = 142 English and N = 126 Spanish). CFA results showed that the hypothesized 6-factor model identified in EFA, composed now of the same 25 items in both the Spanish and English PMHLS, was a good fit for the perinatal mental health literacy construct. Tests of known-groups validity, convergent, and discriminant validity further demonstrated strong, consistent evidence for the construct validity of the PMLHS, indicating that the revised PMHLS was a valid measure of perinatal mental health literacy for English and Spanish-speaking Latinas of childbearing age. Validation of this instrument with Latinos will contribute to the development of interventions that strive to decrease perinatal mental health disparities among this population.

Subject Area

Public Health Education|Mental health|Hispanic American studies|Obstetrics

Recommended Citation

Torres-Catanach, Irma Y, "Development and Validation of the Perinatal Mental Health Literacy Scale among Latinas" (2020). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI27994695.