Nursing Faculty Publications

A Group Telehealth Intervention for Rural Perinatal Depression and Anxiety: A Pilot Study

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Journal of Rural Mental Health



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More than one in five rural childbearing women experience perinatal depression (PD). Major barriers to mental health services in rural areas include lack of mental health resources. Telehealth is an approach to improving access to services but has not been well studied in rural childbearing populations. We explored the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary assessment of effectiveness of a group telehealth intervention for PD in rural women. Pregnant and postpartum women seeking services at rural public health clinics were screened for PD. Those who screened positive were invited to participate in eight weekly group videoconference sessions facilitated by a mental health professional. Recruitment, enrollment, participation, and follow-up were documented. Measures of depression (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale [EPDS]) and anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale [GAD-7]) were administered at four time points. One thousand eight hundred one women were screened for depression and 37% (671) screened positive. Only 25% (168) of those who screened positive agreed to be contacted; 42 women consented and 64.3% attended at least five telehealth sessions. Scores on the EPDS and GAD-7 were significantly decreased preintervention to postintervention, and at 3- and 6-month follow-up (p < .01). Results suggest that group videoconferencing holds promise for increasing access to mental health services, but significant barriers to participation exist for most rural women seeking services at rural public health clinics. To increase feasibility and acceptability, further research is needed to address mental health stigma, establish a network for universal screening beyond public health clinics, and build trusted relationships for the identification and treatment of women with perinatal mood disorders.


Mental health, telehealth, perinatal depression