Can a brief antepartum preventive group intervention help reduce postpartum depressive symptomatology?

Psychother Psychosom. 2012;81(2):98-107. doi: 10.1159/000330035. Epub 2012 Jan 18.


Background: Psychosocial and psychological interventions are generally effective in reducing depressive symptomatology in the postpartum period. Our aim was to evaluate the effectiveness of a brief preventive group intervention for postpartum depression (PPD) in a naturalistic setting, and study the effect of this on social and psychological risk factors.

Methods: We conducted a randomized controlled trial (n = 1,719) in south-eastern Hungary in 62 antepartum centers. Pregnant women (n = 710) underwent a 4-session preventive group intervention whereas a control group (n = 1,009) attended 4 sessions providing the same information given in usual care.

Results: Our intervention appeared to significantly reduce the risk of PPD, as defined by Leverton Questionnaire total scores (OR = 0.69). It resulted in an absolute risk reduction of about 18% in those with antepartum depression and 0.5% in those with no depression at recruitment. A multiple logistic regression analysis revealed a much reduced risk in those with a perceived lack of partner support (OR = 0.4) in the treatment group. Unplanned pregnancy, an irreversible risk factor affecting every fifth woman, also seemed to have a reduced effect on PPD after our group intervention (OR = 0.81).

Conclusions: A brief preventive antepartum group intervention focusing on psychoeducation, stress management, improving coping mechanisms, and the development of social support can be effective in reducing postpartum depressive symptomatology.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis
  • Depression, Postpartum / prevention & control*
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / prevention & control*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hungary
  • Logistic Models
  • Numbers Needed To Treat
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications*
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned / psychology
  • Prenatal Care / methods*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychotherapy, Brief
  • Psychotherapy, Group*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spouses / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy