Limited benefit from telephone support for pregnant women

Clinical question: 
Compared with routine care, how effective is telephone support during pregnancy and the first 6 weeks post birth?
Bottom line: 
Despite some encouraging findings, there was insufficient evidence to recommend routine telephone support for women accessing maternity services, as the evidence was neither strong nor consistent. Although benefits were found in terms of reduced depression scores, breastfeeding duration and increased overall satisfaction, the current trials did not provide strong enough evidence to warrant investment in resources.
The overall methodological quality of the studies was mixed. For any single outcome there were few data and most of the results were inconclusive. Many of the trials recruited women from high-risk groups (eg, high risk of depression or smokers) and the intervention was specifically designed to address the risk factor. All but 2 of the trials were carried out in high-resource settings.
Telephone communication is increasingly being accepted as a useful form of support within health care. There is some evidence telephone support may be of benefit in specific areas of maternity care, such as breastfeeding support and for women at risk of depression. There is a plethora of telephone-based interventions currently being used in maternity care. It is, therefore, timely to examine which interventions may be of benefit, which are ineffective and which may be harmful.
Review CD#: 
February, 2014
Authored by: 
Brian R McAvoy