Promoting responsiveness between mothers with depressive symptoms and their infants

J Nurs Scholarsh. 2001;33(4):323-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1547-5069.2001.00323.x.


Purpose: To test the efficacy of an interactive coaching intervention to promote responsiveness between mothers experiencing postpartum depressive symptoms (PPDS) and their infants.

Design: An experimental design with 117 postpartum women in the Northeastern United States.

Methods: Participants were randomly assigned either to the treatment or control group. Both groups had home visits at 4-8 weeks, 10-14 weeks, and 14-18 weeks postpartum and mother-infant interaction was videotaped and coded for responsiveness. The treatment group also received a coached behavioral intervention designed to promote maternal-infant responsiveness. Measures included the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory-II, and the Dyadic Mutuality Code.

Findings: The hypothesis, that the treatment group would show significantly higher maternal-infant responsiveness after the intervention, was supported. No effect of the intervention on depression scores was found. A significant increase in responsiveness and a significant decrease in depression scores occurred over time for both treatment and control groups. No interaction between group and time was detected.

Conclusions: The study showed that a coaching strategy had a positive effect on maternal-infant interaction in this sample. Future research is needed to test coaching interventions in conjunction with other strategies targeted to promote maternal-infant responsiveness and to reduce PPDS.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Depression, Postpartum / nursing*
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • New England
  • Parenting*
  • Patient Education as Topic*