Online singing interventions for postnatal depression in times of social isolation: a feasibility study protocol for the SHAPER-PNDO single-arm trial

Bind, R. H. and Estevao, C. and Fancourt, D. and Hazelgrove, K. and Sawyer, K. and Rebecchini, L. and Miller, C. and Dazzan, P. and Sevdalis, N. and Woods, A. and Crane, N. and Manoharan, M. and Burton, A. and Dye, H. and Osborn, T. and Greenwood, L. and Bakolis, I. and Baldellou Lopez, M. and Davis, R. and Perkins, R. and Pariante, C. (2022) Online singing interventions for postnatal depression in times of social isolation: a feasibility study protocol for the SHAPER-PNDO single-arm trial. Pilot and Feasibility Studies, 8 (148) ISSN 2055-5784


Background: Postnatal depression (PND) affects 13% of new mothers, with numbers rising during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this prevalence, many women have difficulty with or hesitancy towards accessing pharmacological and/or psychological interventions. Group-based mother-baby activities, however, have a good uptake, with singing improving maternal mental health and the mother-infant relationship. The recent lockdowns highlight the importance of adapting activities to an online platform that is wide-reaching and accessible. Aims: The SHAPER-PNDO study will primarily analyse the feasibility of a 6-week online singing intervention, Melodies for Mums (M4M), for mothers with PND who are experiencing barriers to treatment. The secondary aim of the SHAPER-PNDO study will be to analyse the clinical efficacy of the 6-week M4M intervention for symptoms of postnatal depression. Methods: A total of 120 mothers and their babies will be recruited for this single-arm study. All dyads will attend 6 weekly online singing sessions, facilitated by Breathe Arts Health Research. Assessments will be conducted on Zoom at baseline and week 6, with follow-ups at weeks 16 and 32, and will contain interviews for demographics, mental health, and social circumstances, and biological samples will be taken for stress markers. Qualitative interviews will be undertaken to understand the experiences of women attending the sessions and the facilitators delivering them. Finally, data will be collected on recruitment, study uptake and attendance of the programme, participant retention, and acceptability of the intervention. Discussion: The SHAPER-PNDO study will focus on the feasibility, alongside the clinical efficacy, of an online delivery of M4M, available to all mothers with PND. We hope to provide a more accessible, effective treatment option for mothers with PND that can be available both during and outside of the pandemic for mothers who would otherwise struggle to attend in-person sessions, as well as to prepare for a subsequent hybrid RCT. Trial registration: Identifier: NCT04857593. Registered retrospectively on 22 April 2021. The first participants were recruited on 27 January 2021, and the trial is ongoing.

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