Computer- or web-based interventions for perinatal mental health: A systematic review

J Affect Disord. 2016 Jun:197:134-46. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2016.02.057. Epub 2016 Mar 9.


Background: Treating prenatal mental health issues is of great importance, but access to treatment is often poor. One way of accessing treatment is through computer- or web-based interventions. Reviews have shown that these interventions can be effective for a variety of mental health disorder across different populations. However, their effectiveness for women in the perinatal period has not been reviewed. This review therefore aimed to provide a first overview of computer- or web-based interventions for women's perinatal mental health issues by systematically identifying and reviewing their characteristics and efficacy.

Methods: Twelve electronic databases were searched for published and unpublished literature using keywords, supplemented by hand searches. Data were extracted for characteristics of the intervention and the study, study findings and the methodological quality was assessed.

Results: The majority of the eleven eligible studies were randomized controlled trials. Interventions were targeted at depression, stress, and complicated grief during the antenatal or postpartum period or the time after pregnancy loss. Findings suggest that computer- or web-based interventions targeted at improving mental health, especially depression and complicated grief, may be effective.

Limitations: Findings and their generalizability is limited by the heterogeneity of reviewed interventions and study designs, as well as methodological limitations.

Conclusions: This systematic review constitutes the first synthesis of research on computer- or web-based interventions for perinatal mental health issues and provides preliminary support that this could be a promising form of treatment during this period. However, there are significant gaps in the current evidence-base so further research is needed.

Keywords: Computer; Intervention; Mental health; Online; Perinatal; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression, Postpartum / etiology
  • Depression, Postpartum / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Mental Health*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Postnatal Care / methods*
  • Postnatal Care / trends
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / methods*
  • Prenatal Care / trends
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic