Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 57–63 | Cite as

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
Original Article


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).


Postpartum depression Randomized trial Behavioral intervention Psychosocial 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth A. Howell
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Susan Bodnar-Deren
    • 1
    • 7
  • Amy Balbierz
    • 1
  • Holly Loudon
    • 2
  • Pablo A. Mora
    • 4
  • Caron Zlotnick
    • 5
  • Jason Wang
    • 1
  • Howard Leventhal
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Health Evidence and PolicyIcahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive ScienceIcahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryIcahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of Texas at ArlingtonArlingtonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Warren Alpert Brown Medical SchoolWomen and Infants HospitalProvidenceUSA
  6. 6.Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research and Department of PsychologyRutgers, the State University of New JerseyNew BrunswickUSA
  7. 7.Department of SociologyVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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