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Investigating the impact of Be Mindful during pregnancy

In collaboration with the University of Oxford and the University of Southampton’s School of Psychology, a randomized control design study sought to investigate the effectiveness of providing an online mindfulness intervention to reduce stress and improve mood in pregnancy. The results of which were published in the British Journal of Midwifery in 2018.

Participants were allocated into two groups; an immediate intervention group, with the course being completed during pregnancy and a waitlist control group, with participants commencing with the course post-partum. To the researcher’s knowledge, prior to this study there hadn't been any research examining changes in stress, anxiety and depression in a non-clinical sample in pregnancy, using an online mindfulness course based directly on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).

The effectiveness of the course was measured based on robust and well-established measures of psychological wellbeing, including the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and the Generalized Anxiety Questionnaire (GAD-7), which are administered on the Be Mindful course as standard at the start and end of the structured course, along with the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). Pregnancy-specific measures of psychological wellbeing included in the study were the Edinburgh Post Natal Depression Score (EDPS), the Tilburg Pregnancy Distress Score (TPDS) and the Labour Worry Score (OWLS).

30%

REDUCED DEPRESSION DURING PREGNANCY

 

The reported mental health outcomes of the 72 participants evaluated in the study (those who completed the assessments at the start, end and at a one-month follow-up) were highly significant across the immediate intervention group and the waitlist control group. On average, participants enjoyed a 27% reduction in stress, and reductions of 30% in anxiety and depression, which were maintained at a one-month post-course follow up. The course was also shown to have a significant positive effect on pregnancy distress and labour worry for participants in the immediate intervention group.

Though the study was limited due to the low participant retention rate (39% completed the course) this is not unexpected with the turbulent and unpredictable nature of pregnancy, and a drawback of any study in a real-world setting. It was concluded that, despite the study's limitations, these significant outcomes indicate the potential for delivering MBCT online as an equitable alternative to mindfulness-based therapies delivered in-person, where current treatment pathways are scarce, providing a low-risk therapeutic intervention to improve psychological wellbeing in pregnancy.

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