Feasibility and Perception of Using Text Messages as an Adjunct Therapy for Low-Income, Minority Mothers With Postpartum Depression

The objective of the study was to evaluate the feasibility of sending supportive text messages to low-income mothers of racial and ethnic minority backgrounds with postpartum depression and gauge the perception of receiving such message for depression.

Mothers found to be at risk received supportive text messages four times a week for six months, in addition to receiving access to traditional counseling services in an academic pediatric office. By the end of the research period, 4,158 text messages (86.1 percent of those sent) were successfully delivered to 54 mothers.

Between December 2012 and June 2014, screenings for postpartum depression occurred as a standard practice for all mothers coming into Cardinal Glennon for a well-child visit for an infant between seven days and six months old. English-speaking mothers living in the City of St. Louis who scored above 10 on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) were approached to join the study by members of the research team.

Each participant received the same, non-randomized message script without repeat over the six-month time frame. The messages were developed by members of the project team. Some of the messages allowed for a yes/no response in regards to whether the mother would like a follow-up phone call. The messages ranged from informational (“Having a routine is comforting for babies.”) to motivational and reflective (“Today let’s focus on making decisions from the facts not our feelings.”)

Broom noted that most of the study’s participants were unmarried and did not have a deep support system.
“There is a cultural norm in this community of strength, of absorbing whatever comes at them,” Broom said. “We want to break that barrier that equates reaching out for help as weakness.”

The paper finds that text messaging is a relatively low-cost and feasible way to serve as adjunct therapy to provide private support for at-risk mothers suffering from postpartum depression.

Population of focus: Low-Income, Minority Mothers With Postpartum Depression

Links to resource:

Date: 2015

Journal: JMIR Mental Health