The following is a summary of “Trial of a patient-directed eHealth program to ameliorate perinatal depression: the MomMoodBooster2 practical effectiveness study,” published in the APRIL 2023 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology by Danaher, et al.
Depression is a common complication of childbirth, affecting many pregnant and postpartum women. However, many of these women go untreated, despite the serious consequences for the mother and her family.
Professional societies have recommended improvements in screening and treatment for perinatal depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy eHealth interventions have shown efficacy in treating depression, including perinatal depression. MomMoodBooster, an eHealth program, has previously been proven effective for postpartum depression. For a study, researchers sought to evaluate the effectiveness of a perinatal version of MomMoodBooster, which includes both prenatal and postpartum content, within a healthcare delivery setting that already provides universal screening and referral for at-risk patients as part of routine care.
A practical effectiveness study randomly assigned 95 pregnant and 96 postpartum women who screened positive for depression and met eligibility criteria to two experimental groups: the routine-care group, which received the healthcare organization’s perinatal depression care program, and the eHealth group, which received routine care plus the MomMoodBooster2 program. Eligibility criteria included being pregnant or within one year postpartum, at least 18 years of age, no active suicidal ideation, access to broadband internet, and English language proficiency.
Intent-to-treat analyses were conducted using fixed-effects growth models to assess outcome changes at the 12-week posttest. Both groups showed significant reductions in depression severity, anxiety, stress, and automatic thoughts, as well as increased behavioral activation and self-efficacy. Compared to the routine-care group, the eHealth group showed significantly greater decreases in depression severity and stress. The differences were not influenced by depression severity, anxiety, stress, or pregnancy/postpartum status. The majority of women in the eHealth group (93%; n=89) engaged with the program, with 99% of them attending program sessions (M sessions visited=4.3±2.0; M total session duration=73.0±70.2 minutes; 49% viewed all six sessions). Among confirmed program users, the majority rated the program as easy to use (96%), helpful (83%) and indicated that they would recommend it (93%).
The findings supported the effectiveness of MomMoodBooster2 as a treatment option for perinatal women with depression, particularly when combined with universal depression screening and referral. The eHealth program shows promise in increasing the reach of treatment and potentially reducing the number of untreated perinatal women with depression.