Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders affect as many as one in five women globally. Left untreated, these can have major negative effects on maternal and child health and well-being. While effective treatments are available, nearly 60% of mothers with symptoms are undiagnosed, and 50% of diagnosed mothers are left untreated. Poor women and women of color are disproportionally impacted. Cost, time, stigma, and lack of childcare and information constitute major barriers to treatment. As such, simple, cost-effective approaches to providing support are urgently needed. This project will develop a “chatbot” application to provide meaningful support to mothers struggling with or at risk of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. This would serve as an innovative, low-cost and low-barrier intervention. To develop the chatbot, we will first identify the most common concerns of caregivers experiencing or at risk of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, as well as best practices for support. We will combine these insights with user interviews to make the text exchanges occur as naturally as possible. Additionally, to ensure our chatbot will provide meaningful support, we will engage in user testing and co-design techniques with caregivers at risk and community collaborators, including the nonprofit organization Postpartum Support International.
Kaya de Barbaro (Department of Psychology), Eunsol Choi (Department of Computer Science), S. Craig Watkins (School of Journalism), James Pennebaker (Department of Psychology), Xuewen Yao (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering), Megan Micheletti (Department of Psychology), Wendy N. David (Postpartum Support International), Daniel Singley (Postpartum Support International), Lianne Swanson (Postpartum Support International) and Kat Schuknecht (Postpartum Support International)