Identifying Expectant Mothers with PTSD

Researchers at University of Michigan School of Nursing are developing the first front line intervention for expectant mothers affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) related to maltreatment they experienced when they were children. The novel approach identifies women suffering from PTSD so that, before their children are born, interventions can be attempted to support the moms, protect the children, and break the cycle.

Developed by Professor Julia Seng at the School of Nursing, and her collaborator, Mickey Sperlich at SUNY Buffalo, the program is a tool for health care providers to help them work with pregnant women.
“In developing our program, we did a lot of qualitative research with women and clinicians,” Seng said. “This is a new area of perinatal mental health, so working with the end-users to develop interventions was crucial.”

Seng is currently working with the UK-based National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children on a trial program of the intervention in Blackpool, UK. The program has just gone through the licensing process, so Seng and Sperlich will be working with their licensee, the Sidran Traumatic Stress Institute, to create a web portal that not only serves as a tool for accessing the program, but also as a tool to collect much-needed real-world, real-time data.

“Once we have effectiveness data on the original pregnancy program, we want to go on to expand the program itself,” she added. “We’re focused on prenatal and maternity care now, but we have a Spanish translation and a postnatal version for home visitors and pediatric nurses that we are starting to test. It would be valuable to offer modules for dads, and for survivor dads, too.”