Video-Feedback Interaction Guidance for Improving Interactions Between Depressed Mothers and Their Infants ("VID-KIDS") (VID-KIDS)

  • End date
    Jan 1, 2023
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of Calgary
Updated on 25 February 2022
depressive disorder
depressive symptoms
depressed mood


Postpartum depression (PPD) is a major public health issue. Known as "the thief that steals motherhood" since symptoms obstruct a mother's capacity for understanding and enjoying her baby, PPD affects approximately 1 in 5 moms. Built via "serve and return" interactions (e.g. baby smiles, mom smiles back), sensitive and responsive exchanges are the foundation for healthy child development but are diminished by PPD, resulting in interactions that place children at risk for behavioural and cognitive problems. Infants perceive PPD as stressful; stressors stimulate the brain's hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (HPA) and trigger stress hormone (cortisol) release, which, in turn, negatively affects developing infant brains by decreasing brain volume. Infants' critical periods of brain development are vulnerable to long-term effects of cortisol, explaining some of the problematic developmental outcomes observed in children of depressed mothers.

How can the investigators support depressed mothers and their infants? Successfully treating PPD does not always benefit mother-child relationships; however, this research builds on a successful pilot that demonstrated that nurse-guided video feedback improved mother-infant interactions in the context of PPD. By improving interaction quality, depressed mothers may be motivated to engage in more play and, in turn, infants who appear interested and ready to interact are more likely to elicit positive, enjoyable experiences from mothers. Building on the pilot, the investigators will trial the effectiveness of VID-KIDS (Video-Feedback Interaction Guidance for Improving Interactions Between Depressed Mothers and their Infants) on maternal-infant interaction and infant cortisol patterns as well as infant development, maternal symptoms of depression and anxiety, and parenting self-efficacy. If successful, future aims are to 1) integrate VID-KIDS into existing services of Calgary Public Health; and 2) commercialize VID-KIDS for dissemination.


Background & Rationale: Affecting ~19% of mothers, postpartum depression (PPD) reduces maternal sensitivity and positive responsiveness to infant cues and bids for caring attention. Infants perceive these behaviours as stressful which stimulates the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, triggering cortisol release which, at persistently elevated levels, inhibits neurogenesis during critical periods of brain development. Elevated infant cortisol of infants of mothers with PPD may explain later poor child cognitive development and hyperactivity and anxiety problems into adolescence. The negative developmental outcomes from poor quality interactions and disrupted cortisol patterns underscores the urgency for intervening. Treating PPD successfully, has not consistently improved maternal-infant (M-I) interaction quality and children's development. Parent training promoting sensitive, responsive interactions may help infants of depressed mothers develop optimally.

Research Question & Objectives: Conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) with depressed mothers of infants aged 2-6 months designed to alter negative M-I interaction and child development associated with PPD. Objective: examine effect of the intervention, VID-KIDS ("video-feedback intervention to promote improved interactions between mothers and their kids"), on: 1) M-I interaction; 2) infant cortisol patterns, infant development, maternal symptoms of PPD, anxiety, and parenting stress. Anticipate to improve: 1) M-I interactions and infant development, infant cortisol; 2) symptoms of PPD, anxiety, parenting stress, and infant development. The investigators will conduct cost-benefit analyses.

An additional objective is to collect infant buccal cells for future genetic/epigenetic analyses. Research has suggested biological sensitivity, assessed via genotyping specific genetic variants and alleles may confound effects of interventions of this nature. Intervention may affect the epigenome, particularly the number or nature of methylated DNA sites, of treated infants differently than untreated infants that may link to infant development. This portion of the study is optional for parents-they can opt out of buccal cell collection.

Methods: The study will implement a parallel group RCT compared to resource and referral program (standard care) for mothers with PPD and their infants. After baseline assessment, over the following 9-weeks, mothers randomized to the intervention will receive 3-video-feedback sessions during home visits conducted at 3-week intervals. Mothers randomized to the control condition will receive standard care. Both groups will be assessed at baseline, immediately following the 9-week treatment/standard care interval (post-test), then 2-months later (delayed post-test).

Both control and intervention mothers will have access to standard care over the study period. Mothers' use of such health services will be documented. The investigators will adhere to CONSORT guidelines.

Intervention description. Video-feedback interventionists will be trained by Co-PI Tryphonopoulos using a manualized curriculum of 7-themed modules offered in a 4-day workshop. Training modules will include: 1) Introduction to Video-feedback; 2) NCAST Keys to Caregiving Program; 3) Infant Engagement and Disengagement Cues (using NCAST's BabyCues: A Child's First Language Cards; 4) Video-feedback Intervention Protocol; 5) Overview of Behaviours of Interest; 6) Case Studies; and 7) Examples of Strengths-Based Feedback.

The intervention follows an 8-step protocol:

Ice-breaking. Interventionist initiates rapport with the participant.

Overview of Infant Engagement and Disengagement Cues. Using NCAST's BabyCues, interventionists review coloured photo cards that illustrate and explain the behavioural cues commonly seen in infants, including potent and subtle engaging and disengaging cues.

NCAST Teaching Activity. Using the Nursing Child Assessment Teaching Scale (NCATS) protocols and elements, mothers are asked to perform a teaching task more advanced than their infant's age level.

Recording Interaction. Mothers and infants are observed and video-recorded.

Initial-Viewing. Specific feedback is not provided during the initial viewing. Mothers are asked to reflect on and point out any infant cues they recognize. Interventionist documents the presence or absence of infant cues and mother's response for later discussion.

Second-Viewing. Interventionist and mother co-view the recorded interaction with opportunities provided for replay/slow review portions emphasizing sensitivity and responsiveness. Interventionist provides feedback: using praise reinforcing desired maternal behaviours; information on infant cues; appraisal of maternal response to infant distress; and use of cognitive growth fostering language.

Third-Viewing. The final viewing, integrates all of the concepts discussed in the previous screenings, using positive reinforcement to emphasize optimal aspects of sensitivity, responsiveness and constructive feedback suggesting areas for growth.

Post-viewing Debrief. Interventionist and mother conclude the video-feedback session discussing whatever interests the mother. Mothers are encouraged to make note their infants' engagement/disengagement cues and responses to these non-verbal behaviours.

Video feedback sessions last 60-90min. Subsequent sessions follow same protocol (new teaching activities) and build on the previous interaction guidance discussions.

Condition Post Partum Depression
Treatment VID-KIDS Intervention Program
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03052374
SponsorUniversity of Calgary
Last Modified on25 February 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Recruitment will be conducted through Calgary Public Health's immunization program. Public Health RNs routinely screen mothers for PPD during infants' vaccination clinic appointments using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. EPDS scores>12 are indicative of probable major depression with postpartum onset and make a mother eligible for our study. Approximately 500 mothers per year (40/month) screen >12 on the EPDS. The investigators have agreed to support a part-time Calgary Public Health staff person to review screening records and contact potential participants to determine if they are willing to be contacted by a the VID-KIDS Project Manager for further information about the study. If mothers agree, then the VID-KIDS Project Manager will contact the mother to explain the study, further assess eligibility, and if appropriate conduct the informed consent procedure
If the investigators are able to successfully invite 40% of these mothers
then the investigators project that the investigators will be able to recruit
at least 16 participants per month, giving us our sample in 20-24 months
Since the inception rate of PPD is greatest within the first 12 weeks of
delivery, screening mothers at these strategic intervals is particularly
advantageous. Moreover, Co-I McNeil and Collaborator Philley (Director of
Research and Director of Nursing, Calgary Public Health, respectively) have
successful experience with this feasible approach. Eligibility will be based
on 1) a cut-off of greater than 12 (indicating probable PPD) on the Edinburgh
Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) 20; and 2) infant aged 2-6 months at
baseline. Mothers will not be excluded for taking anti-depressants or using
other interventions for PPD (i.e., counseling, psychotherapy). However
mothers who are receiving other parenting services (e.g., Circle of Security
program, infant-parent psychotherapy) will be excluded
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