Depression Research

‘An online cognitive behavioural therapy program for women with depression in the perinatal period: A randomised controlled trial’

University of New South Wales, NSW
Awarded 2016

Co-funded by The David Henning Memorial Foundation

“An internet delivered treatment program for maternal depression and anxiety has the potential to reduce many of the barriers to car that mother face.”

Researcher Profile

Siobhan completed a Bachelor of Social Science in Psychology in 2014 at the university of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and was awarded First Class Honours.   Her research has been published in Health Psychology Open (2015).

Since graduating, Siobhan has been working at the Clinical  Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression (CRUfAD) at St Vincent’s Hospital as a research assistant.   She has worked on a variety of projects including the forthcoming Royal Australia and New Zealand Psychiatry College Practice Guidelines, and the development and evaluation of novel intervention packages for treating depression and anxiety when comorbid with chronic pain and among patients with cancer.    Siobhan commenced her PhD with UNSW in 2016.

Project Summary

The aim of this PhD is to develop and evaluate a low cost, accessible, internet-delivered (online) cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) program for the treatment of maternal depression and anxiety during the perinatal period (i.e during pregnancy and the first 12 months after childbirth).

In collaboration with perinatal experts in Sydney and Melbourne, expectant/new mother and midwives/GPs, the ‘MUMentum’ program will be tailored to the unique stressor and emotional difficulties experienced by women during this period.    The Perinatal ‘MUMentum’ Program will be divided into a pregnancy course and postpartum course.  Both courses will include 3 lessons involving general CBT components such as psycho-education, problem-solving and behavioural activities.   Each self-managed course is designed to be completed over 4 weeks.   This will be the first online program to encompass the entire perinatal period (i.e from the start of pregnancy to 12 months postpartum) and also in recognising the role anxiety plays, along with depression, during this period.   This program will be evaluated in a randomised, controlled trial conducted at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney.

The results of this PhD will be disseminated at conferences and published in lading peer-reviewed journals.   If successful in reducing perinatal depression and anxiety, the program will be made available to perinatal services across Australia.

Supervisors: Professor Gavin Andrews, Dr Hila Haskelberg, Professor Marie-Paule Austin.