Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 14, Issue 6, pp 465–477 | Cite as

Efficacy of cognitive behavioral internet-based therapy in parents after the loss of a child during pregnancy: pilot data from a randomized controlled trial

  • Anette KerstingEmail author
  • Kristin Kroker
  • Sarah Schlicht
  • Katja Baust
  • Birgit Wagner
Original Article


The loss of a child during pregnancy can be a traumatic event associated with long-lasting grief and psychological distress. This study examined the efficacy of an internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy program for mothers after pregnancy loss. In a randomized controlled trial with a waiting list control group, 83 participants who had lost a child during pregnancy were randomly allocated either to 5 weeks of internet therapy or to a 5-week waiting condition. Within a manualized cognitive behavioral treatment program, participants wrote ten essays on loss-specific topics. Posttraumatic stress, grief, and general psychopathology, especially depression, were assessed pretreatment, posttreatment, and at 3-month follow-up. Intention-to-treat analyses and completer analyses were performed. Relative to controls, participants in the treatment group showed significant improvements in posttraumatic stress, grief, depression, and overall mental health, but not in anxiety or somatization. Medium to large effect sizes were observed, and the improvement was maintained at 3-month follow-up. This internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy program represents an effective treatment approach with stable effects for women after pregnancy loss. Implementation of the program can thus help to improve the health care provision for mothers in this traumatic loss situation.


Pregnancy loss Posttraumatic stress Depression Therapy Randomized controlled trial 



We are grateful to all the women who participated in this study. This project was fully funded by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anette Kersting
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kristin Kroker
    • 2
  • Sarah Schlicht
    • 2
  • Katja Baust
    • 2
  • Birgit Wagner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychosomatic MedicineUniversity of LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of MuensterMuensterGermany

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