Protocol for the effectiveness evaluation of an antenatal, universally offered, and remotely delivered parenting programme ‘Baby Steps’ on maternal outcomes: a Born in Bradford’s Better Start (BiBBS) study

Publication authors

Kate E. Mooney, Tracey Bywater, Josie Dickerson, Gerry Richardson, Bo Hou, John Wright and Sarah Blower


Background Poor perinatal mental health and maternal sensitivity towards a child in the early years can carry a longterm cost to individuals and to society, and result in negative child outcomes such as poor mental health and social emotional issues. Despite the recognition of early intervention and prevention, there is mixed evidence regarding antenatal parenting interventions that aim to enhance perinatal mental health and maternal sensitivity to prevent negative child outcomes. ‘Baby Steps’ is a relationship-based antenatal and postnatal parenting programme. The service evaluated in this study is delivered in a low-income and ethnically diverse community via Better Start Bradford. This study aims to assess whether the universally, and remotely delivered Baby Steps programme is effective in improving postnatal maternal sensitivity (primary outcome) and postnatal maternal mental health (secondary outcome) when compared to services as usual 6–10 weeks post-birth. It will also assess differences in birth outcomes, and differences in the prevalence of poor perinatal mental ill health through routine data. The feasibility of collecting cost and health related resource use data for a future economic evaluation will be explored. Methods The study is a quasi-experimental evaluation in a single centre. All participants are drawn from Born in Bradford’s Better Start (BiBBS) interventional family cohort study. Intervention participants will be matched to a demographically comparable control group using propensity score matching. The required minimum sample is n = 130 (ratio 1:1) to detect a medium effect (± 2.35, d = .50) on the primary outcome—maternal-child sensitivity, using the Mothers Object Relations Scale Short Form (MORS-SF). Secondary outcomes include the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-8), Generalised Anxiety Disorder assessment 7 (GAD-7), identification of poor perinatal mental health through routine data, and birth outcomes (delivery method, gestation period, low birth weight). Service delivery costs and health resource use will be gathered from routine data.