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Keywords:

  • depression;
  • health locus of control;
  • postpartum;
  • pregnancy

Aims and objectives

To assess the effectiveness of application of health locus of control in pregnant women for prevention of postpartum depression in Iran.

Background

Nearly 10–15% of women suffer postnatal depression by the end of the second week after delivery, which creates problems in caring for the child that may affect child's future learning and concentration.

Design

Pre–post experimental design.

Methods

Two hundred and thirty volunteer women were randomly divided into experimental and control groups. The data collection tools included a demographic questionnaire, the Multidimensional Health Locus of Control Scale and the Edinburg Depression Scale. Based on the associations found in the pretest, intervention programme was planned and carried out in the focused group discussion method. Data were collected after the end of scheduled sessions, immediately and one month later. The data were analysed with SPSS-16 using statistical methods including anova, chi-square test, Student's t-test and paired t-test.

Results

Chance health locus of control significantly reduced and internal health locus of control significantly increased, immediately after intervention. Also, a month after intervention, a significant difference was observed between the two groups in reducing postpartum depression.

Conclusions

The planned participatory intervention led to empowerment and increased awareness and internalisation of health control beliefs and less tendency towards external health control beliefs, especially chance, improvement in general health leading to improved psychological health for prevention of postpartum depression in mothers.

Relevance to clinical practice

Clinicians might assess chance and internal health locus of control to identify the women at risk of developing depression during their pregnancy and to develop prevention and treatment plans.