this study evaluates how an internet-based intervention affects mothers' parenting satisfaction, infant centrality and depressive symptoms.
a quasi-experimental design and repeated measures were used.
this study was conducted in two Finnish public maternity hospitals (intervention/control).
a convenience sample (N=1300) of primiparous and multiparous Finnish-speaking mothers were invited to participate. Multiple-birth and early discharge mothers receiving home visits were excluded. The analysis included 760 mothers.
the intervention offered online support for parenting, breast feeding and infant care beginning from the middle of pregnancy. It consisted of an information database, a peer discussion forum and expert advice.
Outcomes were measured by the Evaluation and Infant Centrality subscales of the What Being the Parent of a New Baby is Like-Revised, and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale after childbirth, and six weeks, six months and 12 months post partum. Age, parity, parenting self-efficacy, and perception of infant and family functioning were used as the covariates.
during the first postpartum year, mothers' parenting satisfaction increased significantly, whereas infant centrality and depressive symptoms decreased within groups. However, these changes were not linear. The mean difference between groups in parenting satisfaction and depressive symptoms was not significant within any of the four assessments. The mean difference in infant centrality between control and intervention mothers was significant only at six weeks post partum. Primiparas scored significantly higher in infant centrality and significantly lower in depressive symptoms than multiparas.
an internet-based intervention did not significantly affect mothers' perceptions of parenting satisfaction and depressive symptoms, but intervention mothers experienced higher infant centrality compared with control mothers at six weeks. Parenting self-efficacy was a significant covariate for all measures. Parity needs to be taken into account when infant centrality and depressive symptoms are used as outcome variables in intervention studies. More research is needed to study the potential of information data bank, professional, and peer online support. This study also highlights the need to pay more attention to the selection of the target population, the selection of outcome measures, and implementation issues in intervention research.