Objective: To test whether a cognitive-behaviour therapy intervention program reduces the prevalence of depression during the first postnatal year in mothers of very preterm babies.
Design: Prospective, single blind, randomised, controlled study.
Setting: Perinatal centre in Western Australia.
Participants: One hundred and ninety-nine out of 673 English-speaking mothers of infants admitted to the neonatal unit.
Intervention: A six-session cognitive-behaviour therapy intervention program provided by a research midwife between weeks two and six after birth. Women in the control group received standard care.
Main outcome measures: Depression and anxiety disorders occurring in the first year assessed by a clinical psychologist at structured interview using the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia (SADS) at 2 weeks, 2, 6 and 12 months.
Results: One hundred and one women were randomised to the intervention group and 98 to the control group. Fifty-four mothers (27%) in the trial were diagnosed with minor or major depression in the 12 months following very preterm delivery, 29 (29%) in the intervention group and 25 (26%) in the control group (relative risk 1.1 [95% CI 0.80-1.5]). There were no differences in the time of onset or the duration of the episodes of depression between the groups. Overall, 74 mothers (37%) of the 199 met criteria for a diagnosis of psychological morbidity during the first year.
Conclusions: Our intervention program did not alter the prevalence of depression in these mothers. Rates of depression and stress reactions are high in these mothers.