Project Summary

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?

Mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety, are common during pregnancy and after giving birth. Twice as many pregnant Black women with low incomes experience these types of conditions as White women. Yet Black women are much less likely than White women to receive mental health screening or treatment during and after pregnancy.

In this study, the research team is comparing two ways to provide mental health treatment to women who are Black or of African descent during and after pregnancy. The team wants to see how well these options work to improve outcomes for women and their babies.

Who can this research help?

Results may help women’s health centers when considering ways to provide mental health care to women who are Black or of African descent.

What is the research team doing?

This study has two parts. In the first part, the research team is developing a program to help provide mental health care to women who are Black or of African descent. The program includes:

  • One-on-one or group cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. In CBT, patients learn how to change patterns in their thinking and behavior to improve how they feel. The team is adapting CBT activities for women who are Black or of African descent.
  • Patient navigators to help women understand and plan mental healthcare activities.
  • Virtual peer support groups led by Black mothers to share community resources, such as help with family planning and healthy eating.

In the second part, the research team is screening pregnant women who are Black or of African descent from three prenatal care centers in Washington, DC. The team is enrolling 700 women who have low incomes in the study. Then, the team is assigning women by chance to one of two groups. Women in the first group receive the program. Women in the second group receive standard prenatal care.

Among the group receiving the program, the research team is interviewing the women to see if they have a diagnosis of anxiety or depression. Women with one of these diagnoses receive one-on-one CBT. Women without a diagnosis receive group CBT that focuses on preventing anxiety and depression by helping the women learn ways to manage their stress.

Women are taking part in the study during their pregnancy and until their baby is one year old.  During prenatal doctor visits, the research team is asking women about their health, mental health, and well-being. After the baby is born, the team is asking women about their infant’s development and behavior at well-baby visits. Also, the team is assessing infants’ development at one year of age. Finally, the team is reviewing electronic health records to learn about women and infants’ healthcare use and health outcomes.

Patients, Black mothers, community leaders, midwives, doctors, psychologists, and policy advisers are helping to plan and conduct this study.

Research methods at a glance

Design Elements Description
Design Randomized controlled trial
Population 700 pregnant women ages 18–45 with low incomes who are Black or of African descent
  • Usual prenatal care
  • Culturally adapted patient navigation and mental healthcare program
    • One-on-one CBT for women with a diagnosis of anxiety or depressio
    • Group CBT for women without a diagnosis of anxiety or depression

Primary: maternal stress

Secondary: anxiety, depression, resiliency, risk and protective factors, intervention engagement and adherence, prenatal and pediatric healthcare visit attendance, perceptions of prenatal and postpartum care, healthcare utilization, infant health, behavioral/developmental outcomes, attachment to mother

Timeframe 1-year follow-up for primary outcome

Project Information

Catherine Limperopoulos, PhD
Huynh-Nhu Le
Children's Research Institute
Advancing Perinatal Mental Health and Wellbeing: The DC Mother-Infant Behavioral Wellness Program

Key Dates

March 2021
October 2025

Study Registration Information


Award Type
Health Conditions Health Conditions These are the broad terms we use to categorize our funded research studies; specific diseases or conditions are included within the appropriate larger category. Note: not all of our funded projects focus on a single disease or condition; some touch on multiple diseases or conditions, research methods, or broader health system interventions. Such projects won’t be listed by a primary disease/condition and so won’t appear if you use this filter tool to find them. View Glossary
Populations Populations PCORI is interested in research that seeks to better understand how different clinical and health system options work for different people. These populations are frequently studied in our portfolio or identified as being of interest by our stakeholders. View Glossary
Intervention Strategy Intervention Strategies PCORI funds comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies that compare two or more options or approaches to health care, or that compare different ways of delivering or receiving care. View Glossary
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: October 18, 2023