Effectiveness of a pram walking intervention for women experiencing postnatal depression

Armstrong, Kylie Jan (2004) Effectiveness of a pram walking intervention for women experiencing postnatal depression. PhD by Publication, Queensland University of Technology.


The purpose of the research project was to examine the effects of exercise and social support for postnatal women who reported experiencing Postnatal Depression (PND). PND is a serious condition that affects up to 10%-15% of women (O'Hara & Swain, 1996). Many previous studies have reported an improvement of depressive symptomatology following a pram walking intervention. However, no published research exists which assesses postnatal women who report experiencing PND. A randomised controlled trial was used, where pre-test data were compared to post-test effects. Two studies were conducted. In study 1 (n= 20) a multi-intervention group (exercise and social support) was compared to a control group who received no intervention. Study 2 (n= 19) was conducted 20 months later on a different group of women and involved a pram walking intervention group and a comparison social support group. Structured questionnaires assessing depressive symptomatology, general health and levels of social support were administered at pre-test phase, week 6 and 12. A sub-maximal fitness test was conducted the week before the program started and at week 12. The chief investigator was present at all sessions to guide the participants. Study 1 (S1): The multi-intervention group attended 3 pram walking sessions per week. After the exercise session the group met for refreshments in a local hall. The control group was only required to perform the fitness tests and answer the questionnaires. A 6-week alternative program of exercise and social support was offered to all the women at the completion of the intervention period. Study 2 (S2): The pram walking group met for 2 exercise sessions and were required to make up the third session independently. The comparison social support group met once per week for morning tea with the children. The samples for both studies were drawn from the Gold Coast region in Australia. Women of childbearing age who were experiencing depressive symptoms were recruited. For S1 their child had to be less than or equal to 12 months and for S2 the age cut off was increased to less than or equal to 18 months. The participants were screened to ensure that they did not have a medical condition that would prevent regular aerobic exercise and they were also excluded if they had a previous history of mental illness or could not speak English. Demographic data were obtained from each participant and details such as height, weight and age were collected for use in analysing fitness levels. The data for each study were collected across three time points (pre, week 6 and week 12) using widely tested instruments. Some additional questions relating to the participants experiences were collected at the completion of the study from the women allocated to the intervention groups. Data were also collected on fitness levels (pre and week 12) and the instrument was tested for its reliability. Both pram walking intervention groups were required to complete a weekly exercise diary. For each study, to test for the effect of the intervention over time, a two-way analysis of variance was conducted on the major outcome variables. Group (intervention versus control) was the between subject factor and time (pre-test, week 6, week 12) was the within subject factor or repeated measures factor. Due to the small sample size, further tests were conducted to check the assumptions of the statistical test to be used. The results showed that using Mauchly's Test, the Sphericity assumptions of repeated measures for ANOVA were met. Further, tests of homogeneity of variance assumptions also confirmed that this assumption was met. Data analysis was conducted using the software package SPSS for Windows Release 10.0. (Norusis, 2000). Overall, the findings from both S1 and S2 showed that the groups who received the pram walking intervention improved their depressive symptomatology and fitness levels when compared to those of the control (S1) and social support group (S2). Social support levels did not alter for either group from both studies. These results are encouraging and suggest that a pram walking program is an effective form of intervention for postnatal women experiencing depressive symptomatology.

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ID Code: 15837
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD by Publication)
Supervisor: Edwards, Helen & Davies, Peter
Keywords: Exercise, Postnatal Depression, Social Support, Motherhood and Exercise, Interventions, Postnatal, Well-Being
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Nursing
Department: Health
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Kylie Jan Armstrong
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:50
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:39

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