AI and narrative embeddings detect PTSD following childbirth via birth stories

Alon Bartal, Kathleen M. Jagodnik, Sabrina J. Chan, Sharon Dekel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Free-text analysis using machine learning (ML)-based natural language processing (NLP) shows promise for diagnosing psychiatric conditions. Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer (ChatGPT) has demonstrated preliminary initial feasibility for this purpose; however, whether it can accurately assess mental illness remains to be determined. This study evaluates the effectiveness of ChatGPT and the text-embedding-ada-002 (ADA) model in detecting post-traumatic stress disorder following childbirth (CB-PTSD), a maternal postpartum mental illness affecting millions of women annually, with no standard screening protocol. Using a sample of 1295 women who gave birth in the last six months and were 18+ years old, recruited through hospital announcements, social media, and professional organizations, we explore ChatGPT’s and ADA’s potential to screen for CB-PTSD by analyzing maternal childbirth narratives. The PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5; cutoff 31) was used to assess CB-PTSD. By developing an ML model that utilizes numerical vector representation of the ADA model, we identify CB-PTSD via narrative classification. Our model outperformed (F1 score: 0.81) ChatGPT and six previously published large text-embedding models trained on mental health or clinical domains data, suggesting that the ADA model can be harnessed to identify CB-PTSD. Our modeling approach could be generalized to assess other mental health disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8336
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 11 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • Birth narratives
  • Birth trauma
  • ChatGPT
  • Childbirth-related post-traumatic stress disorder (CB-PTSD)
  • Maternal mental health
  • Natural language processing (NLP)
  • Postpartum PTSD
  • Pre-trained large language model (PLM)


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