In-person 1-day cognitive behavioral therapy-based workshops for postpartum depression: a randomized controlled trial

Psychol Med. 2023 Mar 7;53(14):1-11. doi: 10.1017/S0033291723000454. Online ahead of print.


Background: Postpartum depression (PPD) affects up to one in five mothers and birthing parents, yet as few as 10% access evidence-based treatment. One-day cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)-based workshops for PPD have the potential to reach large numbers of sufferers and be integrated into stepped models of care.

Methods: This randomized controlled trial of 461 mothers and birthing parents in Ontario, Canada with Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) scores ⩾10, age ⩾18 years, and an infant <12 months of age compared the effects of a 1-day CBT-based workshop plus treatment as usual (TAU; i.e. care from any provider(s) they wished) to TAU alone at 12-weeks post-intervention on PPD, anxiety, the mother-infant relationship, offspring behavior, health-related quality of life, and cost-effectiveness. Data were collected via REDCap.

Results: Workshops led to meaningful reductions in EPDS scores (m = 15.77 to 11.22; b = -4.6, p < 0.01) and were associated with three times higher odds of a clinically significant decrease in PPD [odds ratio (OR) 3.00, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.93-4.67]. Anxiety also decreased and participants had three times the odds of clinically significant improvement (OR 3.20, 95% CI 2.03-5.04). Participants reported improvements in mother-infant bonding, infant-focused rejection and anger, and effortful control in their toddlers. The workshop plus TAU achieved similar quality-adjusted life-years at lower costs than TAU alone.

Conclusions: One-day CBT-based workshops for PPD can lead to improvements in depression, anxiety, and the mother-infant relationship and are cost-saving. This intervention could represent a perinatal-specific option that can treat larger numbers of individuals and be integrated into stepped care approaches at reasonable cost.

Keywords: Anxiety; brief; cognitive behavioral therapy; cost effectiveness; depression; mental disorders; postpartum; psychotherapy; public health; randomized controlled trial; workshop.