An intervention to reduce postpartum depressive symptoms: A randomized controlled trial

Elizabeth A. Howell, Susan Bodnar-Deren, Amy Balbierz, Holly Loudon, Pablo A. Mora, Caron Zlotnick, Jason Wang, Howard Leventhal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Depressive symptoms and depression are a common complication of childbirth, and a growing body of literature suggests that there are modifiable factors associated with their occurrence. We developed a behavioral educational intervention targeting these factors and successfully reduced postpartum depressive symptoms in a randomized trial among low-income black and Latina women. We now report results of 540 predominantly white, high-income mothers in a second randomized trial. Mothers in the intervention arm received a two-step intervention that prepared and educated mothers about modifiable factors associated with postpartum depressive symptoms (e.g., physical symptoms, low self-efficacy), bolstered social support, and enhanced management skills. The control arm received enhanced usual care. Participants were surveyed prior to randomization, 3 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months postpartum. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS of 10 or greater). Prevalence of depressive symptoms postpartum was unexpectedly low precluding detection of difference in rates of depressive symptoms among intervention versus enhanced usual care posthospitalization: 3 weeks (6.0 vs. 5.6 %, p = 0.83), 3 months (5.1 vs. 6.5 %, p = 0.53), and 6 months (3.6 vs. 4.6 %, p = 0.53).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-63
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Women's Mental Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Behavioral intervention
  • Postpartum depression
  • Psychosocial
  • Randomized trial


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