Poor maternal mental health during the perinatal period has been shown to have potentially long-lasting effects for mother and child. In recognition of this, maternal mental health is receiving increased attention from political and healthcare organizations, with a growing focus on preventing the onset of common mental health disorders.
The objective for this review is to provide an update of randomized controlled trials examining the use of interventions targeted to prevent the onset of postnatal depression and anxiety in nondiagnostic populations with universal or selected samples.
A total of four databases, EBSCO Host, Science Direct, Scopus, and Web of Science, incorporating PsychINFO were searched and papers selected according to clearly specified inclusion criteria. A large Health Technology review was published in 2016, for which the final search was conducted in December 2012. Therefore inclusion criteria were studies published from January 2013 onwards, available in English language, had a focus on prevention of postnatal maternal depression and anxiety, and used psychological interventions. Drug intervention trials were excluded.
12 studies were identified as examining antenatal or postnatal intervention trials with an aim of preventing maternal postnatal depression and/or anxiety. There continues to be limited evidence to recommend specific prevention strategies for universal samples without further testing. There is evidence to suggest the use of rational-emotive behavioral therapy in an antenatal sample may have some utility, and the use of psychotherapy-based interventions in a postnatal setting is also supported although both require further investigation. Additionally, there is a need to gather information on acceptability, as many trials were hindered by poor adherence to interventions and high attrition that were otherwise unexplained.
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