The British Journal of Psychiatry
Professional and non-professional intervention for highly anxious primiparous mothers.
B Barnett, G Parker


Primiparous women (n = 627) were screened on state and trait anxiety measures in the post-partum period; sub-groups of highly anxious (n = 89), moderately anxious (n = 29), and minimally anxious (n = 29) mothers were derived and subsequently interviewed. The high-anxiety mothers were randomly assigned to a professional intervention, to a non-professional intervention, and to a control group, and their progress was reviewed over the following 12 months. Compliance, both in responding to progressive assessments and in accepting therapeutic intervention, was extremely high. Changes in anxiety levels for mothers not receiving an intervention were minimal over the study. In the high-anxiety sub-groups, there was a 19% reduction in state anxiety levels for those receiving a professional intervention, a 12% reduction for those receiving a non-professional intervention, and a 3% reduction in the controls. A planned contrast analysis determined that only professional intervention had a significant effect, intervention successfully lowering state anxiety levels to a value comparable with the moderately anxious mothers.