A pilot randomized controlled trial of cognitive behavioral therapy for perinatal depression adapted for women with low incomes

Depress Anxiety. 2013 Jul;30(7):679-87. doi: 10.1002/da.22050. Epub 2013 Jan 14.


Background: Perinatal women with identified depression in prenatal care settings have low rates of engagement and adherence with depression-specific psychotherapy. We report the feasibility and symptom outcomes of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) modified (mCBT) to address the needs of perinatal, low-income women with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).

Methods: Pregnant women (n = 1421) were screened for depressive symptoms in obstetrics clinics in conjunction with prenatal care visits. A total of 59 women met diagnostic criteria for MDD; 55 women were randomly assigned to mCBT or Treatment as Usual (TAU). The mCBT intervention included an initial engagement session, outreach, specific perinatal content and interpersonal components. Measures were gathered at pre-treatment, 16 week post-randomization, and 3-month follow-up.

Results: Most participants attended at least one CBT session and met study criteria for treatment adherence. Active research staff outreach promoted engagement and retention in the trial. Treatment satisfaction was rated as very good. In both observed and multiple imputation results, women who received mCBT demonstrated greater improvement in depressed mood than those in TAU at 16-week post-randomization and 3-month follow-up, Cohen's d = -0.71 (95% CI -4.93, -5.70).

Conclusions: Modified CBT offers promise as a feasible and acceptable treatment for perinatal women with low-incomes in prenatal care settings. Targeted delivery and content modifications are needed to engage populations tailored to setting and psychosocial challenges specific to the perinatal period.

Keywords: CBT/cognitive behavior therapy; depression; maternal-child; pregnancy and postpartum; primary care, behavioral activation, behavior therapy; treatment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis
  • Depression, Postpartum / therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pilot Projects
  • Poverty / psychology*
  • Pregnancy / psychology*
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*
  • Prenatal Care / methods*
  • Prenatal Care / psychology
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Treatment Outcome