Which preventive interventions effectively enhance depressed mothers' sensitivity? A meta-analysis
SourceInfant Mental Health Journal, 32, 3, (2011), pp. 362-376
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI KLP
SW OZ BSI ON
Infant Mental Health Journal
SubjectExperimental Psychopathology and Treatment; Social Development
Improving depressed mothers' sensitivity is assumed to be a key element in preventing adverse outcomes for children of such mothers. This meta-analysis examines the short-term effectiveness of preventive interventions in terms of enhancing depressed mothers' sensitivity toward their child and investigates what type of intervention is most effective. Thirteen interventions, reported in 10 controlled outcome studies, met the inclusion criteria (N = 918). Meta-analytic results showed a small to medium, significant mean effect size (g = 0.32) with large variation in individual effect sizes (-0.56-1.76). Interventions including baby massage were highly effective in improving maternal sensitivity (g = 0.85). In contrast, individual therapy for the mother proved ineffective in terms of improving maternal sensitivity (g = -0.00). Two other significant predictors of greater effect sizes were the inclusion of a support group and the use of a higher number of intervention methods; however, the significance of these results was largely accounted for by one single study. Our meta-analysis confirms that depressed mothers' sensitivity can be improved by preventive intervention and suggests that baby massage may be an effective intervention method to evoke short-term changes in maternal sensitivity. It is unclear whether these changes are maintained over time.
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