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J Med Internet Res. 2019 Aug 29;21(8):e12410. doi: 10.2196/12410.

Evaluation of a Technology-Based Peer-Support Intervention Program for Preventing Postnatal Depression (Part 1): Randomized Controlled Trial.

Author information

Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies, Yong Loo Lin School Of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore.
Department of Psychological Medicine, University Medicine Cluster, National University Hospital, Singapore, Singapore.
Division of Medical Oncology and Hematology, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.
Contributed equally



The frenzy of postbirth events often takes a toll on mothers' mental well-being, leaving them susceptible to postpartum psychological disorders such as postnatal depression (PND). Social support has been found to be effective in restoring the emotional well-being of new mothers. Therefore, mothers need to be supported during the crucial postpartum period to buffer the negative after effects of childbirth and to promote healthier maternal well-being.


This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a technology-based peer-support intervention program (PIP) on maternal outcomes during the early postpartum period.


A randomized, parallel-armed controlled trial was conducted. The study recruited 138 mothers (69 in intervention group, 69 in control group) at risk of PND from a tertiary hospital in Singapore. To support these mothers, 20 peer volunteers were recruited by word of mouth and trained by a psychiatrist in social support skills before the intervention commenced. The 4-week-long intervention included a weekly follow-up with a peer volunteer through phone calls or text messages. The intervention group received peer support in addition to the standard care offered by the hospital. The control group only received postnatal standard care. Maternal outcomes (PND, postnatal anxiety [PNA], loneliness, and perceived social support) were measured with reliable and valid instruments. Data were collected immediately postpartum, at 1 month postpartum and at 3 months postpartum. The general linear model was used to compare the groups for postpartum percentage changes in the outcome variables at first and third months, and the linear mixed model was used to compare the trend over the study period.


There was a statistically significant difference in Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale scores (d=-2.11; 95% CI -4.0 to -0.3; P=.03) between the intervention and control groups at 3 months postpartum after adjusting for covariates. The intervention group had a significant change over time compared with the control group.


The technology-based PIP was found to be effective in reducing the risk of PND among new mothers and showed a generally positive trend in reducing PNA and loneliness and increasing perceived social support. This study highlights the importance of training paraprofessionals to provide needed support for new mothers postpartum. A further long-term evaluation of the PIP on maternal and family outcomes and its cost-effectiveness is needed to inform clinical practices.


ISRCTN Registry ISRCTN14864807;




anxiety; digital health; internet; loneliness; online support groups; peer support; peer-to-peer support; postpartum depression; social support; technology

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