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Does aerobic exercise reduce postpartum depressive symptoms? A systematic review and meta-analysis

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journal contribution
posted on 14.03.2018 by Ruth V. Pritchett, Amanda Daley, Kate Jolly
Background There is currently no specific guidance on the role of exercise in managing postpartum depression in the UK and US, and international guidance is inconsistent. Aim To assess the effectiveness of aerobic exercise on postpartum depressive symptoms. Design and setting Systematic review and meta-analysis. There was no restriction to study site or setting. Method The databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, PsycINFO, SportDiscus, Clinical Trials.gov, and the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform were searched. Titles and abstracts, then full-text articles, were screened against inclusion criteria: RCTs measuring depressive symptoms in mothers ≤1 year postpartum; and interventions designed to increase aerobic exercise compared with usual care or other comparators. Included studies were assessed using the Cochrane Collaboration's risk of bias tool. Meta-analysis was conducted. Pre-planned subgroup analyses explored heterogeneity. Results Thirteen RCTs were included, with 1734 eligible participants. Exercise significantly reduced depressive symptoms when all trials were combined (standardised mean difference -0.44; 95% confidence interval = -0.75 to -0.12). Exploration of heterogeneity did not find significant differences in effect size between women with possible depression and in general postpartum populations; exercise only and exercise with co-interventions; and group exercise and exercise counselling. Conclusion This systematic review provides support for the effectiveness of exercise in reducing postpartum depressive symptoms. Group exercise, participant-chosen exercise, and exercise with co-interventions all may be effective interventions. These results should be interpreted with caution because of substantial heterogeneity and risk of bias.

Funding

This paper presents independent research funded by the University of Birmingham, The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Primary Care Research and The Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West Midlands.

History

School

  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

British Journal of General Practice

Volume

67

Issue

663

Pages

e684 - e691

Citation

PRITCHETT, R.V., DALEY, A.J. and JOLLY, K., 2017. Does aerobic exercise reduce postpartum depressive symptoms? A systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of General Practice, 67 (663), e684-e691.

Publisher

Royal College of General Practitioners © British Journal of General Practice

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Acceptance date

05/04/2017

Publication date

2017

Notes

This paper was accepted for publication in the journal British Journal of General Practice and the definitive published version is available at https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp17X692525

ISSN

0960-1643

eISSN

1478-5242

Language

en

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