Preliminary Effectiveness of Group Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Young Kenyan Mothers With HIV and Depression: A Pilot Trial

Document Type



Brain and Mind Institute


Abstract: Objective: The authors adopted a task-sharing strategy in which lay health workers delivered group interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT-G) in primary care clinics in Nairobi, Kenya, to young mothers with HIV and depression. The study examined the acceptability, feasibility, and effectiveness of IPT-G in improving depression and antiretroviral therapy adherence.

Methods: Twenty-four mothers (ages 18–24 years and 6–12 weeks postpartum) participated. The women were randomly assigned to IPT-G or to a waitlist. Eight lay providers administered the IPT-G sessions across 8 weeks. The primary outcome was pre- to postintervention change in depression scores as measured on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. The secondary outcome was antiretroviral therapy adherence. All waitlist participants subsequently received the intervention, and a secondary outcome, within-group analysis, was conducted and included those participants.

Results: Participants’ median age was 23.0 years, 17 (71%) lived with a partner, and 19 (79%) had fewer than two children. The intervention group had a mean±SD depression score of 15.9±4.3 at baseline and 6.8±7.0 postintervention. For the waitlist control group, the mean score was 17.3±5.9 at baseline and 13.2±6.6 at the first follow-up. Waitlist participants had significantly greater mean depression scores than did intervention group participants at the first follow-up (after the intervention group’s 8-week IPT-G) (β=6.42, 95% confidence interval=1.17 to 11.66, p=0.017). No difference was observed between groups in antiretroviral therapy adherence.

Conclusions: This study provides preliminary evidence that IPT-G led by community health workers may have benefits for postpartum depression among young mothers with HIV.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.


American Journal of Psychotherapy