Objective: Depression is a public health crisis, and scalable, affordable interventions are needed. Although many psychosocial interventions are effective, there is little research investigating their sustained, long-term influence on well-being. The purpose of this study was to examine whether a prenatal mindfulness intervention with demonstrated benefit for women's depressive symptoms during the early postpartum period would exert effects through 8 years.
Method: The sample of 162 lower income women was racially and ethnically diverse. Women were assigned to receive an 8-week mindfulness-based intervention during pregnancy (MIND) or treatment as usual (TAU). Repeated assessments of depressive symptoms were collected using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 at baseline, postintervention, and following childbirth (1, 2, 3-4, 5, 6, and 8 years from baseline). The most recent assessment of depressive symptoms was collected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Results: MIND and TAU women were equivalent on sociodemographic factors and depressive symptoms at baseline. Depressive symptoms at all follow-up assessments through 8 years were significantly lower among women in MIND compared to TAU. The odds of moderate or higher depressive symptoms were greater among TAU compared to MIND women at all time points except the 6-year assessment. By Year 8, 12% of women in MIND reported moderate or more severe depressive symptoms compared to 25% of women in TAU.
Conclusions: Results suggest the effects of a group-based psychosocial intervention during pregnancy may endure for years, well beyond the initial perinatal period. Investing in prevention and intervention efforts for mental health during pregnancy may have sustained benefits for the well-being of women. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01307683.