In-Home Intervention Can Help Postpartum Moms

Psychological sessions with trained nurses, midwives linked to less depression symptoms
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Specially trained "health visitors" offering in-home psychological interventions to new mothers were associated with reduced symptoms of depression, according to research published online Jan. 15 in BMJ.

C. Jane Morrell, of the University of Sheffield in Sheffield, United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed data from 2,749 women who were allocated to intervention and 1,335 to a control group. Those in the intervention group who scored at least 12 on the Edinburgh postnatal depression scale (EPDS) at six and eight weeks were offered either cognitive behavioral or person-centered (also called non-directive counseling) sessions for eight weeks. Those in the control group received usual care. The interventions were delivered by health visitors, who are specially trained nurses or midwives.

The main outcome was an EPDS score of at least 12 at six months, the authors note. On this measure, the adjusted odds ratio for a score of at least 12 in women in the intervention group was 0.60 compared to those in the control group. In the intervention group, 12.4 percent of women had a score of at least 12, and in the control group 16.7 percent did, the researchers report. Neither type of intervention showed a benefit over the other, the investigators found.

"This large trial of treatment for postpartum depression is unique in the comparison of the cognitive behavioral approach and person-centered approach. The trial contributes new evidence to indicate that training in psychologically informed approaches can be recommended for health visitors to enable them to identify postnatal depressive symptoms and enhance the psychological care of postnatal women," the authors write.

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