Effectiveness of Telehealth Interventions for Women With Postpartum Depression: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2021 Oct 7;9(10):e32544. doi: 10.2196/32544.


Background: Postpartum depression (PPD) is a prevalent mental health problem with serious adverse consequences for affected women and their infants. Clinical trials have found that telehealth interventions for women with PPD result in increased accessibility and improved treatment effectiveness. However, no comprehensive synthesis of evidence from clinical trials by systematic review has been conducted.

Objective: The aim of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of telehealth interventions in reducing depressive symptoms and anxiety in women with PPD. To enhance the homogeneity and interpretability of the findings, this systematic review focuses on PPD measured by the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS).

Methods: PubMed, The Cochrane Library, CINAHL, PsycINFO, CNKI, and Wanfang were electronically searched to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on the effectiveness of telehealth interventions for women with PPD from inception to February 28, 2021. Data extraction and quality assessment were performed independently by two researchers. The quality of included studies was assessed using the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool, and meta-analysis was performed using RevMan 5.4 software.

Results: Following the search, 9 RCTs with a total of 1958 women with PPD were included. The EPDS (mean difference=-2.99, 95% CI -4.52 to -1.46; P<.001) and anxiety (standardized mean difference=-0.39, 95% CI -0.67 to -0.12; P=.005) scores were significantly lower in the telehealth group compared with the control group. Significant subgroup differences were found in depressive symptoms according to the severity of PPD, telehealth technology, specific therapy, and follow-up time (P<.001).

Conclusions: Telehealth interventions could effectively reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety in women with PPD. However, better designed and more rigorous large-scale RCTs targeting specific therapies are needed to further explore the potential of telehealth interventions for PPD.

Trial registration: PROSPERO CRD42021258541; https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/prospero/display_record.php?RecordID=258541.

Keywords: anxiety; meta-analysis; postpartum depression; telehealth.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Depression, Postpartum* / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Telemedicine*
  • Treatment Outcome