Background Up to one in eight women experience depression during pregnancy. In the UK, low intensity cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the main psychological treatment offered for those with mild or moderate antenatal depression, but has limited relevance to the perinatal context. Referral by midwives and take up of treatment by pregnant women is extremely low.
Interpersonal Counselling (IPC) is a brief, low-intensity form of Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) that focuses on areas of concern to service users during pregnancy.
To improve psychological treatment for depression during pregnancy, the study aimed to assess the feasibility and acceptability of a trial of IPC for antenatal depression in routine NHS services compared to low intensity perinatal specific CBT.
Methods. We conducted a small randomised controlled trial in two centres. A total of 52 pregnant women with mild or moderate depression were randomised to receive 6 sessions of IPC or perinatal specific CBT. Treatment was provided by 12 junior mental health workers (jMHW). The primary outcome was the number of women recruited to the point of randomisation. Secondary outcomes included maternal mood, couple functioning, attachment, functioning, treatment adherence, and participant and staff acceptability.
Results. The study was feasible and acceptable. Recruitment was successful through scanning clinics, only 6 of the 52 women were recruited through midwives. Treatment competence by jMHWs was high. 71% of women in IPC completed treatment. Women reported IPC was acceptable, and supervisors reported high treatment fidelity in IPC therapists. Outcome measures indicated there was improvement in mood in both groups (Change in EPDS score IPC 4.4 (s.d. 5.1) and CBT 4.0 (s.d. 4.8).
Conclusions. This was a feasibility study and was not large enough to detect important differences between IPC and perinatal specific CBT. A full-scale trial of IPC for antenatal depression in routine IAPT services is feasible.
This study has been registered with ISRCTN registry 11513120. – date of registration 05/04/2018. https://doi.org/10.1186/ISRCTN11513120