How Telemedicine Can Help with Perinatal Stress and Depression

In the United States, nurses are largely responsible for caring for new mothers during the initial perinatal period. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about one 1 in 10 women experience symptoms of depression and 1 in 9 experience symptoms of postpartum depression. 

To improve perinatal care to mothers across the globe, researchers in North Carolina, Chicago and Toronto are launching a large-scale study as to whether nurses and non-specialists can use telemedicine to administer behavioral healthcare services, such as dealing with depression and stress, during the perinatal period. The study will examine whether nurses can deliver the same quality of care using live video and audio as a specialist in an in-person setting. 

Find out more about this groundbreaking study and how it could revolutionize perinatal care.

Making Room for Nurses and Non-Specialists in Perinatal Care

The five-year study will be conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina, University of Toronto, and Chicago’s North Shore University Health System. It will take place in all three states and involve around 1,360 women that will be divided into four groups: those receiving treatment in person by a specialist, those using telemedicine to access a specialist, those being treated in person by a nurse, and those using telemedicine to see a nurse. 

Researchers will then compare the results to see if a non-specialist using telemedicine can deliver the same quality of perinatal care as a specialist or those that receive care in an in-person setting. Non-specialists, such as nurses, teachers, and peers that have been trained to deliver behavior healthcare services, have been shown to be just as effective as specialists when it comes to perinatal care. 

Expanding Access to Perinatal Care

If the results of the study show that non-specialists can be just as effective in terms of delivering these services using a telemedicine system, it could increase access to these services across the globe.

Mothers across the globe dealing with perinatal stress and depression can use telemedicine services to remotely connect with non-specialists, giving them access to talk therapy or behavioral activation, a form of psychotherapy that focuses on providing patients with the skills they need to improve their mood and overall mental health.

In addition to talk therapy and behavioral activation, telemedicine providers have launched numerous programs aimed at improved care management for mothers during the perinatal period. Mothers can use smartphone-based apps to access various healthcare resources, connect with local healthcare providers, and access virtual care services such as counseling and other consultation services. 

Depending on the results of the study, this could fundamentally change the way providers manage perinatal stress and depression. New mothers shouldn’t go without access to behavioral healthcare services during this time. Preparing for birth and the period afterward can be challenging for millions of women all over the world. This is just one more way telemedicine is breaking down barriers and expanding access to various healthcare services.Visit InTouch Health to learn more about additional benefits of telemedicine.