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Int J Nurs Stud. 2010 May;47(5):560-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2009.10.015. Epub 2009 Dec 4.

Postpartum depression peer support: maternal perceptions from a randomized controlled trial.

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Nursing and Psychiatry, Canada Research Chair in Perinatal Community Health, University of Toronto, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, Toronto, ON M5T 1P8, Canada.



Peer support in the early postpartum period is effective in the prevention of postpartum depression among women identified as high-risk.


To describe maternal perceptions of peer support received while participating in a trial.


Cross-sectional survey of women participating in a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effect of peer support in the prevention of postpartum depression.


Seven health regions across Ontario Canada.


701 women were recruited between November 2004 and September 2006. Women eligible for the study were all mothers with an Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale score >9 who were within 2 weeks postpartum, at least 18 years of age, able to speak English, had a live birth, and had been discharged home from the hospital. Exclusion criteria included an infant not discharged home with the mother and current use of antidepressant or antipsychotic medication. Two hundred and twenty-one mothers completed the mailed questionnaire.


Women were randomly allocated to receive usual postpartum care (control group) or usual postpartum care plus telephone-based peer support (intervention group). Maternal perceptions of peer support were evaluated at 12 weeks postpartum using the validated Peer Support Evaluation Inventory.


Interactions provided by the peer volunteer included the provision of emotional (92.7%), informational (72.4%), and appraisal (72.0%) support. Mothers reported high levels of positive relationship qualities such as trust (83.6%) and perceived acceptance (79.1%). Most (80.5%) mothers indicated they were very satisfied with their peer support experience. Maternal satisfaction was associated with the number and duration of peer volunteer contacts.


The majority of mothers perceived their peer volunteer experience positively lending further support to telephone-based peer support as a preventative strategy for postpartum depression. The following program modifications were suggested: (a) adapt training to enhance the provision of appraisal support; (b) improve matching of volunteers to participants based on age, number of children, and breastfeeding status; and (c) ensure participating mothers want to receive peer support in order to facilitate the development of relationships with their assigned peers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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