This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.
What is the research about?
Up to 20 percent of women feel extreme sadness, anxiety, or exhaustion after childbirth. This mood disorder, called postpartum depression, can make it difficult for a woman to take care of herself or her new baby. Postpartum depression can affect any new mother. Most women don’t get the mental health care they need to prevent or treat postpartum depression.
Mothers and Babies is a group-based program that has been shown to help prevent postpartum depression and reduce depression symptoms. The program includes a set of eight group sessions before and after birth. Mental health professionals or home visitors lead the sessions. Sessions focus on positive thinking, taking part in pleasant activities, and having a healthy relationship with one’s partner. The sessions take place through home visiting programs or at other locations in the community.
The research team wants to know if Mothers and Babies prevents depression when home visitors lead the group sessions compared with when mental health professionals lead the sessions.
Who can this research help?
Home visiting programs, state agencies, and other organizations can use the results of this study when considering how to provide services to reduce postpartum depression.
What is the research team doing?
The research team is working with 36 home visiting programs in seven states that provide home visits to pregnant women and new mothers. The team is dividing the programs into three groups by chance:
- In one group, mental health professionals lead Mothers and Babies sessions. In these programs, 345 women receive Mothers and Babies sessions. Six sessions are before birth and two are after the baby is born.
- In the second group, home visitors lead the same number of Mothers and Babies sessions for programs serving 345 women.
- In the third group of programs, home visitors provide care to 153 women as usual, without the Mothers and Babies content.
The research team is following up with mothers for six months to see if they have fewer depression symptoms after the sessions than at the start. The team is also asking mothers about their mood, any negative thoughts, and their ability to take part in enjoyable activities. They also ask the mothers if they feel like they have support from friends and family.
Mothers, healthcare professionals, patient advocates, policy makers, and community organization leaders are working with the research team to plan and carry out the study.
Research methods at a glance
Depression During and After Pregnancy Can Be Prevented, National Panel Says. Here’s How
New York Times, February 12, 2019
This Times feature highlights the US Preventive Services Task Force's February 2019 recommendation statement on preventing postpartum depression and two programs—including this project's Mothers and Babies program—that have successfully used a counseling approach for women with one or more of a broad range of risk factors.
- Rebecca Perez, Metropolitan Family Services Home Visiting Program
- Maria Barrera, Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center Healthy Families Home Visiting Program
Other Stakeholder Partners
- Lesley Schwartz, Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development
- Linda Delimata, Illinois Children's Mental Health Partnership
- Sara Barrera, Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center