Enhancing partner empathy and support in the postnatal period

Impact of a communication and empathy resource on sub-optimal communicators

Stephen Matthey*, Monda Joseph, Tania Trapolini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


Postnatal distress inwomen is often associatedwith poor partner support or understanding, often as a result of poor couple communication. Previous research showed positive findings for an innovative resource aimed to ameliorate these factors in community couples – ‘The Great Parents’ Quiz’ (GPQ). This current study compared the impact of this resource on couples classified as either ‘good communicators’ or ‘sub-optimal communicators’ prior to receiving the GPQ. A between and within research design was used. Parents of infants and toddlers (N = 167) were randomly allocated to either receiving the GPQ or not (Controls). Phone interviews were conducted with the women 2 weeks and 6 weeks after receiving the GPQ, or just at 6 weeks for Control participants. Both good and sub-optimal communicators showed equivalent benefits fromreceiving the GPQ. Around 81%of sub-optimal communicators reported that one or other of the couple had learnt something new about their partner, and 66%of thewomen considered that their partner had a better understanding of howshe was experiencingmotherhood. In total, 28% of sub-optimal communicators reported new supportive behaviour as a result of doing the GPQ, and this tended to be proactive as opposed to couples in the Control condition who reported changes as a result of intolerable stress. Both good and sub-optimal communicators report clinically significant benefits from doing the GPQ, and these benefits are more than those obtained fromthe usual pamphlets giving advice to couples to ‘talk and listen’ to each other.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-125
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Promotion
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Communication
  • Couple relationship
  • Health promotion
  • Postnatal distress or depression
  • Support

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