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PPD Telephone Support

MOMS Link: Sustainable Telephone-Based Support for Mothers with Postpartum Depression

Project Summary

This study emerges from an ongoing program of research on PPD support needs and interventions for women and families affected by PPD, and a CIHR funded meeting of key stakeholders on screening and intervention for Postpartum depression (PPD) in the Maritimes. A collaboration between the CHILD Studies Program, New Brunswick Department of Health, and Sykes Telecare, the study aims to develop and test an integrated, telephone-based, peer support program for mothers with (PPD).
PPD is the most frequently occurring morbidity following childbirth. PPD is characterized by the presence, at least two weeks in duration, of depressed mood, loss of interest in usually pleasurable activities, and any four of the following: loss of energy, agitation or activity retardation, changes in appetite, diminished concentration or indecisiveness, or frequent thoughts of suicide or death. Often exacerbating these symptoms are low self-esteem, inability to cope, feelings of incompetence and loneliness. Tha overall prevalence of major PPD is 13% among diverse mothers. PPD has well-documented negative effects on marital satisfaction, maternal-infant interactions, infant behavior and child social and cognitive development.

Goals and Objectives

Phase 1. Develop an innovative, accessible and acceptable telephone-based peer-support intervention for mothers affected by PPD that builds upon existing Telecare technology and research on telephone based peer-support.

Phase 2. (A) Test the effectiveness and acceptability of telephone-based peer-support intervention for mothers with PPD via quasi-experimental methods, and (B) Adapt the program to ensure sustainable and effective telephone-based support is available to mothers with PPD in NB.

Methods and Measures

Community-based participatory and integrated knowledge transfer approaches will be utilized throughout the course of this mulit-phase project. Phase 1involves individual (n=15-20) and group (n=1; 10-12 individuals) interviews with key stakeholders (e.g. Telecare resource personnel, government officials, service providers, national experts, and mothers affected by PPD) to develop an innovative peer-support program for mothers affected by PPD that can be accessed via Telecare. Phase 2 will implement this peer-support program using a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the program's effectiveness.

Eligible, participating mothers will self-select for one of three groups:1. Traditional support (i.e. referrals to physician and mental health), 2. Traditional plus peer support, or 3. Peer support. Approximately 200 mothers will be enrolled throughout the course of the study. Administrative data will enable the collection of basic demographic information on Telecare clients who agree to participate in the study. Self-report data will also be collected at enrollment, midpoint (6 weeks after enrollment) and post-test (12 weeks after enrollment) on (1) measures of effectiveness including depressive symptoms, parenting, family functioning, child development and (2) clients' program satisfaction and recommendations for change. The program will be adapted based on measures of effectiveness and on clients' program satisfaction ratings and recommendations.


Individual and group interviews will be audio-taped, transcribed, and subjected to thematic content analysis using a key category system of themes. Trained research assistants will code the data using inductive analysis, meet pre-specified criteria, use explicit coding rules, and maintain inter-rater agreement at 80%. Quantitative data will be analyzed with descriptive statistics and ANOVA for assessment of effective intervention on depressive symptoms, parenting, family functioning, and child development and health.

Team Members

Principle Investigator: Nicole Letourneau
University of Calgary
Academic Research Team : Cindy-Lee Dennis
University of Toronto
  Linda Duffett-Leger
University of New Brunswick
  Anita Kozyrskyj
University of Alberta
  Patrick McGrath
IWK, NS Health
  Loretta Secco
University of New Brunswick
  Miriam Stewart
University of Alberta

J. Doug Willms
University of New Brunswick

Decision-Maker Partners: Alan Bechervaise
Program Manager, Primary Health Care Unit
New Brunswick Department of Health
  Claudette Landry
Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
New Brunswick Department of Health
  Murielle Wade 
Public Health Manager 
New Brunswick Department of Health

Ken Ross
Assistant Deputy Minister Addictions, 
Mental Health and Primary Health Care Services
New Brunswick Department of Health


Community Advisory Committee: Anne Lebans 
Province of New Brunswick
  Barbara Whitenect MSW 
Addiction and Mental Health Services
  Betty Audain 
Sykes Telehealth
  Bronwyn Davies
New Brunswick Department of Health

Cheryl Hiscock RN
Moncton Hospital

  Dr. Gail Storr RN
New Brunswick Baby Friendly Advisory Committee
  Giselle Maillet
Patient Advocate
  Isabelle Melancon RD
Public Health Practice & Population Health
  Jeff denOtter MSW 
Early Childhood Services
  Jim Murphy
Sykes Telehealth

Leslie Costello
Licensed Psychologist/Coordinator Perinatal Connections

  Monique LeBlanc
Sykes Telehealth
  Wendy McLeod-MacKnight MA
Deputy Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development


Progress to Date

Phase 1 and Phase 2 are now complete. Findings offer promise that telephone-based peer support is effective for both early postpartum depression and maternal depression up to two years after delivery. The non-judgmental support of peers appears to help overcome the barrier of stigma of mental illness. 

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression contact Tele-Care (811) to see if you are elegible to receive free, confidential and convenient support from another mother.  If you have recovered from symptoms of postpartum depression, contact the Project Director, Jennifer Colpitts, at 1-877-214-8390 or Jennifer.Colpitts@unb.ca to see how you can provide support to another mother. You can also check out our website at www.momsnb.ca.