by Leona Tan
This aim of this study was to review the evidence for digital and mobile prenatal and postnatal health interventions. PSYCinfo and Medline databases were searched on March 31st 2016. The search was limited to research studies dating back to 2000. Studies that did not have a health or mental health outcome were excluded from the review.
A total of 27 studies examining digital, mobile, and telephone health interventions for prenatal and postnatal women were found. An almost equal number of studies were found for prenatal (n=14) and postnatal (n=13) interventions. Majority (n=18) of studies concerned symptomatic individuals with a health or mental health issue, while the remaining studies (n=8) were from a healthy population. Only one study examined participants currently in treatment for drug use. Participants from most of these studies (n=11) were from a low socio-economic (SES) background. The remaining studies reported participants from either a mixed SES or did not collect SES data (n=8 respectively).
Given the variety of interventions and heterogeneity of study characteristics, it was difficult to make direct comparisons between studies to assess the strength of evidence and study quality for each type of intervention. Thus, meaningful comparisons on the various interventions could not be determined, and results should be interpreted cautiously.
Nevertheless, certain overall impressions were clear, such as the use of internet-based CBT being the most common intervention identified. This is unsurprising given the breadth of historical evidence for CBT from face-to-face intervention studies. Only one of the 27 identified studies examined the use of a smartphone application. This randomized controlled trial (RCT) investigated the use of a multiple session tracking application on physical activity but did not find a significant change between the intervention or control groups.
Majority of prenatal interventions examined smoking abstinence as an outcome while depression was the most commonly investigated outcome for postnatal studies. RCTs were the most common (78%) form of study design for both prenatal and postnatal interventions, with only six studies varying from this design.
Prenatal intervention studies (n=14)
Postnatal intervention studies (n=13)
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