The development and evaluation of a brief intervention for male partners of women hospitalized for perinatal distress

J Affect Disord. 2021 Feb 1;280(Pt A):26-33. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.10.072. Epub 2020 Nov 5.


Background: Perinatal distress (PD) is a term used to describe mood and anxiety disorders experienced during pregnancy or in the postpartum period. In acute cases of PD, inpatient hospitalization may be indicated. Although hospitalization tends to result in improved immediate safety outcomes, many patients are discharged when they are still experiencing acute symptomology. Interpersonal and environmental factors, particularly those that exist within intimate relationships, can significantly help or hinder patient progress. Partners are also affected by the patient's symptoms and often lacks the skills or knowledge to offer support.

Methods: The aim of the present investigation is to address PD through a dyadic lens by integrating partners into treatment. In this feasibility study, 20 partners of women hospitalized for PD were recruited to participate in an individually delivered, 90-minute intervention designed to improve partner understanding and support behaviors.

Results: Qualitative feedback from partners suggests that the intervention was acceptable and the high recruitment rates demonstrate strong feasibility. Additionally, partners reported significant gains in the context of their support self-efficacy for assisting patients to cope with distress. Patients reported that they were significantly more satisfied with the support that their partners were providing.

Limitations: This was a feasibility study and as such, there was no control group, thereby limiting causal inferences about the intervention.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that this intervention may serve to enhance the recovery of women hospitalized for PD by empowering partners through offering psychoeducation and skills for offering support.

Keywords: feasibility study; perinatal distress; relationship distress; relationship education.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Crisis Intervention*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Parturition*
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexual Partners