In a meta-analysis involving online databases, electronic health (eHealth) interventions were found to be a promising tool for reducing perinatal anxiety. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
A research team conducted a systematic review to identify the pooled effect of eHealth interventions on improving perinatal anxiety. A database search of online resources resulted in 770 randomized controlled trials that included the following criteria: conducted during the perinatal period; examined the effectiveness of an eHealth mental health intervention delivered through a computer program; measured anxiety symptoms or disorders as a primary or secondary outcome; provided data on anxiety levels both pre- and post-intervention; and had a comparison group. The quality of each study was assessed by the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network.
After exclusion criteria were applied and the remainder were reviewed, 4 studies fulfilled the quality criteria and were included in the meta-analysis. The researchers used the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale with 7 items (GAD-7) and the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales with 21 items to measure anxiety. The eHealth intervention group was found to have significantly lower anxiety scores compared with the control group, with a standardized mean difference of ‒0.41.
The intervention group was found to have significantly lower depression scores compared with the control group, and more women in the intervention group no longer met diagnostic criteria for depression compared with the control group (63% vs 12%). At the 12-week assessment, fewer women in the intervention group met diagnostic criteria for depression compared with the control group (79% vs 18%), and more women in the intervention group were classified as recovered compared with those in the control group (62% vs 38%).
Satisfaction with the eHealth program was high, and perceptions of the program were positive. A total of 80% of participants reported enjoying the program; however, some participants reported feeling stressed about completing the treatment modules.
The authors concluded that “eHealth interventions for perinatal mental health conditions are emerging, and the content of these interventions should account for common comorbid conditions during the perinatal period and provide opportunities to tailor further treatment if necessary.”
Bayrampour H, Trieu J, Tharmaratnam T. Effectiveness of eHealth interventions to reduce perinatal anxiety: a systematic review andmeta-analysis. J Clin Psychiatry.2019;80(1):18r12386.