A psychological group intervention for high-risk pregnant women: a protocol of a feasibility and acceptability study of the STAR Mums program

Clare Bellhouse, Angela Komiti, Meredith Temple-Smith, Jade Bilardi, Louise Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In pregnancy, the attachment relationship between a mother and her baby begins to develop and women are more motivated and willing to make changes to become more engaged and responsive mothers and have better relationships with their children. A transgenerational framework has proposed that dysfunctional relationship patterns are often repeated across generations and this has broadened the understanding of early difficulties in parenting. Despite this there has been little research specifically examining high-risk perinatal women and how their interactions with their infants are related to attachment or relational outcomes. Methods: This pilot study aims to evaluate, and to explore the acceptability and feasibility, of participating in the Supporting Transitions, Attachment and Relationships (STAR Mums) program, a psychodynamic attachment-based group intervention, for pregnant women with risk factors for attachment difficulties. The STAR Mums program aims to intervene during pregnancy to assist women with risk factors in the transition to parenthood with the desired outcome to improve the quality of mother-infant emotional interactions, regulation and the attachment relationship. This is a mixed-methods design study incorporating both qualitative and quantitative assessments of five groups of five first-time mothers over a 12-month period. Conclusions: This paper outlines the STAR Mums intervention and protocol for assessing acceptability and feasibility. The STAR Mums program takes a preventative approach and supports early intervention for parents at risk of attachment difficulties with their infants. The results of this study will inform revisions to the current treatment manual and a larger-scale program evaluation to further examine the efficacy of this intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-351
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Attachment
  • early intervention
  • group program
  • high-risk
  • perinatal mental health
  • pregnancy

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