This project is no longer supported by CEDIL due to UK aid cuts during COVID-19.

Impact of maternal depression treatment on maternal health, parental investment, and child development

Programme of work

Evaluating complex interventions

Principal investigator(s)

Joanna Maselko

Host institution

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gillings School of Global Public Health

Other institutions

Human Development Research Foundation (HDRF)
University of Zurich
Columbia University


February 2020 to January 2023 (TBC)

Project type




Research question

The aim of this project is to evaluate the impact and mechanisms of action of a five-year, low-intensity, scalable maternal depression treatment integrated with a child development component (the Thinking Healthy Programme–Peer delivered) on maternal health, parental investments and child development.

Research design

The study will use:

  1. Biological markers to enable early detection and pathways of treat-ment effects;
  2. An embedded pilot experiment testing the effects of personalised child development feedback; and
  3. Machine learning to examine heterogeneity of treatment effects.

Data source

The study team will carry out a new round of data collection to follow-up with children who are now five years old.

Policy relevance

The findings will build on existing research that shows mental health of mothers and fathers has a significant impact on early childhood develop-ment, with lifelong impacts for children. It will provide new causal evi-dence on the medium-term benefits of low-cost treatment for depression.

The evidence from this study will be valuable for policymakers and practi-tioners working on mental health interventions, particularly in low-resource settings.