Preliminary evaluation of a primary care intervention for cry-fuss behaviours in the first 3-4 months of life ('The Possums Approach'): effects on cry-fuss behaviours and maternal mood
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Problem crying in the first few months of life is both common and complex, arising out of multiple interacting and co-evolving factors. Parents whose babies cry and fuss a lot receive conflicting advice as they seek help from multiple health providers and emergency departments, and may be admitted into tertiary residential services. Conflicting advice is costly, and arises out of discipline-specific interpretations of evidence. An integrated, interdisciplinary primary care intervention ('The Possums Approach') for cry-fuss problems in the first months of life was developed from available peer-reviewed evidence. This study reports on preliminary evaluation of delivery of the intervention. A total of 20 mothers who had crying babies under 16 weeks of age (average age 6.15 weeks) completed questionnaires, including the Crying Patterns Questionnaire and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, before and 3-4 weeks after their first consultation with trained primary care practitioners. Preliminary evaluation is promising. The Crying Patterns Questionnaire showed a significant decrease in crying and fussing duration, by 1 h in the evening (P = 0.001) and 30 min at night (P = 0.009). The median total amount of crying and fussing in a 24-h period was reduced from 6.12 to 3 h. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale showed a significant improvement in depressive symptoms, with the median score decreasing from 11 to 6 (P = 0.005). These findings are corroborated by an analysis of results for the subset of 16 participants whose babies were under 12 weeks of age (average age 4.71 weeks). These preliminary results demonstrate significantly decreased infant crying in the evening and during the night and improved maternal mood, validating an innovative interdisciplinary clinical intervention for cry-fuss problems in the first few months of life. This intervention, delivered by trained health professionals, has the potential to mitigate the costly problem of health professionals giving discipline-specific and conflicting advice post-birth.
Australian Journal of Primary Health
© 2013 CSIRO. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.