Efficacy of a prevention program for postpartum obsessive-compulsive symptoms

Kiara R. Timpano, Jonathan S. Abramowitz, Brittain L. Mahaffey, Melissa A. Mitchell, Norman B. Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has emerged as a common and impairing postpartum condition. Prospective studies have identified psychological vulnerabilities for the emergence of postpartum obsessive-compulsive symptoms (OCS), including general anxiety symptoms, pre-existing OCS, and specific cognitive distortions. The identification of these factors makes feasible the development of prevention programs that could reduce the impact of postpartum OCS. The present investigation examined a cognitive-behavioral prevention program using a randomized, double blind, controlled trial. Expecting mothers in their 2nd or 3rd trimester with an empirically established, malleable risk factor for postpartum OCS received either the prevention program (N=38) or a credible control program (N=33), both of which were incorporated into traditional childbirth education classes. Results revealed that at 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months postpartum, the prevention program was associated with significantly lower levels of obsessions and compulsions than was the control condition (all p's < 0.05). Group differences remained significant even after controlling for baseline OCS and depression symptoms. Those in the prevention condition also reported decreasing levels of cognitive distortions, in contrast to the control condition (p's < 0.05). Results support the potential utility of incorporating a CBT-based OCS prevention program into childbirth education classes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1511-1517
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • CBT
  • OCD
  • Postpartum
  • Prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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