Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Psychology

First Advisor

Danielle J. Maack

Second Advisor

Alan Gross

Third Advisor

Laura Johnson


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



Awareness towards maternal mental health conditions (MMHC) has recently increased, especially during the perinatal period (pregnancy and the first postpartum year [Kucherer & Byatt, 2020]). However, perinatal Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), continues to face unique challenges. Perinatal OCD is found to be insufficiently recognized, diagnosed, and treated compared to other MMHC (Mulcahy et al., 2020). Researchers have identified a general lack of awareness and/or stigmatization of the disorder as complicating factors (Cooke et al., 2020; McCarty et al., 2017). One promising avenue for addressing such barriers to accessing care is psychoeducation intervention (PEI) focusing on perinatal OCD (Timpano et al., 2011).

Consequently, the purpose of the present study was to assess the experience of OCS and to expand awareness and understanding surrounding perinatal MMHC, (with a focus on perinatal OCD/OCS) via a single-session, virtually-delivered psychoeducational intervention (PEI). A nonclinical sample of perinatal and non-perinatal participated in this study. Participants completed online self-report measures and were randomly assigned to either the Active Condition (perinatal OCD/OCS psychoeducation intervention) or Control Condition (alternative psychoeducation intervention). It was hypothesized that prior to the intervention, perinatal individuals would report higher symptom experience at baseline, and that specific OCS subtypes would vary in prevalence based on the perinatal period. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that Harm and Taboo-Content OCS would be more stigmatized compared to Contamination OCS at baseline. Finally, the Active PEI Condition was evaluated for effectiveness, hypothesizing that it would lead to greater reductions in OCS and stigma compared to the Control PEI Condition and be perceived as more acceptable.

Results showed that with the exception of reducing stigma endorsed towards the Contamination Subtype of OCS, overall findings were non-significant. However, results nonetheless contribute to the literature by offering points for future consideration in an understudied area of research. The clinical implications for such research include reducing shame and stigma towards perinatal OCD/OCS, namely Contamination OCS during a global pandemic, thereby potentially improving access to evidence-based care for such symptoms. Future research is needed to generalize findings to more diverse populations, especially among those with less education, and explore various psychoeducational intervention and prevention approaches.



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