Effectiveness of psychological interventions to reduce alcohol consumption among pregnant and postpartum women: a systematic review

Abstract

This study aims to synthesise the available evidence on psychological interventions to reduce alcohol consumption among pregnant and postpartum women. Six electronic databases were searched to identify controlled studies targeting pregnant and postpartum women who drink or are at risk of drinking due to previous patterns of alcohol use. Controlled quantitative studies such as randomised controlled trials and quasi-experimental studies were included. The search was limited to peer-reviewed articles in English. The methodological quality of studies was assessed using the Cochrane risk of bias tool. A narrative synthesis of the findings was conducted. In total, 12,610 records were screened, and 11 studies were eligible for inclusion (9 with pregnant women, 2 with postpartum women). All studies were randomised controlled trials. Five studies had positive or partially positive primary outcomes of reductions in drinking or abstinence, and their interventions ranged from multi-session brief interventions to self-help manuals based on cognitive behavioural components. All studies showed considerable methodological limitations. Psychological interventions may be effective in promoting abstinence or reducing alcohol consumption among pregnant and postpartum women. Interventions that demonstrated some efficacy showed higher level of engagement with pregnant women compared to studies which delivered interventions in a single session. Paucity of evidence, inconsistency of outcomes, large heterogeneity in the interventions and methodological weaknesses limit the ability to make final conclusions about the overall effectiveness of these interventions. Findings highlight the need for better quality research on this topic.

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Data availability

Data and materials of this systematic review can be obtained from the corresponding author.

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Correspondence to Daniela C Fuhr.

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This study was performed in line with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki. Approval was granted by the Ethics Committee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

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Samawi, L., Williams, P.P., Myers, B. et al. Effectiveness of psychological interventions to reduce alcohol consumption among pregnant and postpartum women: a systematic review. Arch Womens Ment Health (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00737-020-01100-5

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Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Pregnant women
  • Postpartum women
  • Psychological interventions