Reducing intrusive traumatic memories after emergency caesarean section: A proof-of-principle randomized controlled study.
Horsch A., Vial Y., Favrod C., Harari MM., Blackwell SE., Watson P., Iyadurai L., Bonsall MB., Holmes EA.
Preventative psychological interventions to aid women after traumatic childbirth are needed. This proof-of-principle randomized controlled study evaluated whether the number of intrusive traumatic memories mothers experience after emergency caesarean section (ECS) could be reduced by a brief cognitive intervention. 56 women after ECS were randomized to one of two parallel groups in a 1:1 ratio: intervention (usual care plus cognitive task procedure) or control (usual care). The intervention group engaged in a visuospatial task (computer-game 'Tetris' via a handheld gaming device) for 15 min within six hours following their ECS. The primary outcome was the number of intrusive traumatic memories related to the ECS recorded in a diary for the week post-ECS. As predicted, compared with controls, the intervention group reported fewer intrusive traumatic memories (M = 4.77, SD = 10.71 vs. M = 9.22, SD = 10.69, d = 0.647 [95% CI: 0.106, 1.182]) over 1 week (intention-to-treat analyses, primary outcome). There was a trend towards reduced acute stress re-experiencing symptoms (d = 0.503 [95% CI: -0.032, 1.033]) after 1 week (intention-to-treat analyses). Times series analysis on daily intrusions data confirmed the predicted difference between groups. 72% of women rated the intervention "rather" to "extremely" acceptable. This represents a first step in the development of an early (and potentially universal) intervention to prevent postnatal posttraumatic stress symptoms that may benefit both mother and child. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov, www.clinicaltrials.gov, NCT02502513.