The Efficacy of Be a Mom, a Web-Based Intervention to Prevent Postpartum Depression: Examining Mechanisms of Change in a Randomized Controlled Trial

JMIR Ment Health. 2023 Mar 17:10:e39253. doi: 10.2196/39253.


Background: Postpartum depression (PPD) is treatable and preventable, but most women do not seek professional help for their perinatal depressive symptoms. One increasingly popular approach of improving access to care is the use of web-based intervention programs.

Objective: The objective of this study was 2-fold: first, to assess the efficacy of Be a Mom, a brief web-based selective or indicated preventive intervention, in reducing depressive and anxiety symptoms of women at high risk for PPD; and second, to examine mechanisms of change linking modifiable self-regulatory skills (ie, emotion regulation, self-compassion, and psychological flexibility) to improved perinatal mental health outcomes.

Methods: This 2-arm, open-label randomized controlled trial involved a sample of 1053 perinatal women presenting high risk for PPD who were allocated to the Be a Mom intervention group or a waitlist control group and completed self-report measures at baseline and postintervention assessments. Univariate latent change score models were computed to determine changes over time in adjustment processes and outcomes, with a multigroup-model approach to detect differences between the intervention and control groups and a 2-wave latent change score model to examine whether changes in processes were related to changes in outcomes.

Results: Be a Mom was found to be effective in reducing depressive (intervention group: µΔ=-3.35; P<.001 vs control group: µΔ=-1.48; P<.001) and anxiety symptoms (intervention group: µΔ=-2.24; P<.001 vs control group: µΔ=-0.43; P=.04) in comparison with the control group, where such changes were inexistent or much smaller. All 3 psychological processes under study improved statistically significantly in posttreatment assessments: emotion regulation ability (Δχ23=12.3; P=.007) and psychological flexibility (Δχ23=34.9; P<.001) improved only in the intervention group, and although self-compassion increased in both groups (Δχ23=65.6; P<.001), these improvements were considerably greater in the intervention group.

Conclusions: These results suggest that Be a Mom, a low-intensity cognitive behavioral therapy program, is a promising first-line intervention for helping perinatal women, particularly those with early-onset PPD symptoms.

Trial registration: NCT03024645;

Keywords: Be a Mom; cognitive behavioral therapy; mobile phone; postpartum depression; prevention; randomized controlled trial; web-based interventions.

Associated data