Australian Journal of Primary Health Australian Journal of Primary Health Society
The issues influencing community health services and primary health care
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Preliminary evaluation of a primary care intervention for cry-fuss behaviours in the first 3-4 months of life (‘The Possums Approach’): effects on cry-fuss behaviours and maternal mood

Pamela S. Douglas A E , Yvette Miller B , Anne Bucetti B , Peter S. Hill C and Debra K. Creedy D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Discipline of General Practice, The University of Queensland, Herston, Brisbane, Qld 4029, Australia.

B Queensland Centre for Mothers and Babies, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, Qld 4067, Australia.

C School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, Herston, Brisbane, Qld 4029, Australia.

D Centre for Health Practice Innovation, Griffith University, Nathan, Brisbane, Qld 4111, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: pameladouglas@uq.edu.au

Australian Journal of Primary Health 21(1) 38-45 https://doi.org/10.1071/PY13011
Submitted: 22 January 2013  Accepted: 18 July 2013   Published: 2 September 2013

Abstract

Problem crying in the first few months of life is both common and complex, arising out of multiple interacting and co-evolving factors. Parents whose babies cry and fuss a lot receive conflicting advice as they seek help from multiple health providers and emergency departments, and may be admitted into tertiary residential services. Conflicting advice is costly, and arises out of discipline-specific interpretations of evidence. An integrated, interdisciplinary primary care intervention (‘The Possums Approach’) for cry-fuss problems in the first months of life was developed from available peer-reviewed evidence. This study reports on preliminary evaluation of delivery of the intervention. A total of 20 mothers who had crying babies under 16 weeks of age (average age 6.15 weeks) completed questionnaires, including the Crying Patterns Questionnaire and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, before and 3-4 weeks after their first consultation with trained primary care practitioners. Preliminary evaluation is promising. The Crying Patterns Questionnaire showed a significant decrease in crying and fussing duration, by 1 h in the evening (P = 0.001) and 30 min at night (P = 0.009). The median total amount of crying and fussing in a 24-h period was reduced from 6.12 to 3 h. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale showed a significant improvement in depressive symptoms, with the median score decreasing from 11 to 6 (P = 0.005). These findings are corroborated by an analysis of results for the subset of 16 participants whose babies were under 12 weeks of age (average age 4.71 weeks). These preliminary results demonstrate significantly decreased infant crying in the evening and during the night and improved maternal mood, validating an innovative interdisciplinary clinical intervention for cry-fuss problems in the first few months of life. This intervention, delivered by trained health professionals, has the potential to mitigate the costly problem of health professionals giving discipline-specific and conflicting advice post-birth.


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