September 25, 2019

eHealth Interventions and Perinatal Anxiety

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Hamideh Bayrampour, MS, PhD

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada​


Anxiety symptoms and disorders are common during the perinatal period.
Between 15% and 20%
of pregnant women
may experience these conditions. Due to fear of fetus exposure to medications, many affected women prefer nonpharmacologic approaches, such as psychotherapy, to manage their mental health issues.

The use of digital applications to facilitate the delivery of health care is known as “eHealth.” eHealth interventions for mental illnesses are increasingly becoming more common. These web-based interventions are cost-effective and convenient and can provide accessible and timely treatment options. eHealth interventions are shown to be effective in improving postpartum and antepartum depression. Despite their effectiveness for anxiety among the general population, a recent review reported mixed results for perinatal anxiety. The noted review, however, was not focused on anxiety, and studies with various designs were included.

My colleagues and I conducted a systematic review to summarize the evidence on perinatal anxiety and performed a meta-analysis to determine the pooled effect of eHealth interventions on improving perinatal
anxiety. The findings of our meta-analysis showed that eHealth interventions significantly improved anxiety symptoms during the perinatal period. All included studies were primarily focused on depression, highlighting the need for a trial focused on anxiety. The content of interventions was also mainly focused on depression. All studies reported a large effect size for eHealth in reducing depression, but reductions in anxiety scores and other variables were smaller.

Given the prevalence and comorbidity of depression and anxiety, the content of eHealth interventions for perinatal mental health should cover both depression and anxiety. Our findings also suggested that social disparities appear to remain important in the utilization of these types of interventions. Women with more complicated life circumstances may benefit from a combined approach of eHealth and traditional treatment.

Financial disclosure:Dr Bayrampour has no relevant personal financial relationships to report.​

Category: Anxiety , Women
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Related to: “Effectiveness of eHealth Interventions to Reduce Perinatal Anxiety: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”

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