What is it about?

Listening Visits are a nondirective counselling intervention delivered by nurses to depressed postpartum women. In 2007, Listening Visits were listed as a recommended treatment in British national guidelines. Nevertheless in the 2014 update of the guideline, they were removed from the list of recommended treatments, shocking British Health visitors who utilized these as a part of standard care. The NICE review leading to the removal of Listening Visits was based on five trials one of which included nondepressed women. Thus the reduced effectiveness might have been due to the inclusion of depressed women who would not have evidenced a drop in depression scores after Listening Visits because they did not have elevated depression scores at the start of the treatment. The purpose of this meta-analysis is to provide an estimate of the true population effect of Listening Visits as a treatment for maternal depression compared to control conditions.

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Why is it important?

The removal of Listening Visits from the NICE guidelines may have been premature. Many depressed mothers do not access treatment from a mental health specialists due to not being aware that help is needed, stigma about receiving treatment, or logistical barriers that make accessing help difficult. Because Listening Visits can be effectively delivered by nurses and other point-of-care professionals, they provide a useful treatment option in a system of stepped care. Studies have found that women value this treatment option.


The moderate effect size for Listening Visits in this meta-analysis, considered together with the advantages afforded by how, where, and who provides this treatment, support Listening Visits as a first-line intervention in a stepped care approach for mothers with mild to moderately severe depression symptoms.

Lisa Segre
University of Iowa

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Listening Visits for maternal depression: a meta-analysis, Archives of Women s Mental Health, January 2021, Springer Science + Business Media,
DOI: 10.1007/s00737-020-01101-4.
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