This single-blind parallel design randomized controlled trial evaluated the feasibility and effectiveness of a modified version of the Mother–Infant Transaction Program (MITP) in enhancing Chinese mothers’ sensitivity towards their premature infants’ physiological and social cues.
Sixty mothers of hospitalized premature infants (mean gestational age = 32.1 weeks; SD = 2.8) were randomly assigned to either the MITP group or the treatment-as-usual control group. The intervention group (n = 30) received four sessions of parental sensitivity training adapted from the MITP, delivered by clinical psychologists before the infants were discharged. The control group (n = 30) received standard care provided by the hospitals. Each dyad was assessed at baseline (Time 1), immediately after intervention (Time 2), and when the infants were at the gestation-corrected ages of 3, 6, 9, and 12 months (Times 3–6). Maternal sensitivity, mother–infant interaction quality, parenting stress, postpartum depression, and mother’s perception of infant’s temperament were measured at Times 1–4, whereas infants’ weight gain and developmental performance were assessed at Times 3–6.
The MITP group showed significantly higher maternal sensitivity and better mother–infant interaction quality after completing the training. They also reported less parenting stress and postnatal depression than the control group at Time 2 and subsequent follow-ups. The intervention significantly predicted better weight gain and developmental outcomes in infants across Times 3–6, mediated by maternal wellbeing and interaction quality.
Our results demonstrated the feasibility and effectiveness of this adapted sensitivity training among Chinese mothers with premature infants. [ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04383340]