Empathy, defined as sensitivity to the needs of others, is a critical virtue to foster in mothers of infants. Despite this importance, maternal empathy is often overlooked in child health care and intervention studies. Further, low-income mothers tend to face more stressors that can undermine empathy.
Small Moments, Big Impact: Supporting Maternal Empathy by Adding Media to Child Health Services (SMBI) will develop and pilot a media-based intervention that aims to answer two Big Questions: Can media sent by pediatricians to mothers from low-income backgrounds promote empathy? Is there a feasible and scalable approach?
The intervention will consist of 10 videos, and associated prompts and hands-on activities, that will be sent to mothers every two weeks from the child’s pediatrician via a smartphone app during the first six months after a baby’s birth. Mothers will be encouraged to share and discuss the videos with members of her support network. All media will be co-developed using participatory design with mothers, pediatricians, and health care professionals. SMBI will be piloted with 40 mothers receiving the intervention. The media intervention, data, and dissemination will be outputs of the project.
If successful, SMBI will result in: 1) increased maternal empathy; 2) new evidence and knowledge about an effective approach for supporting empathy in mothers from low-income backgrounds; 3) acceptability, feasibility of administering, and therefore potential for scalability through standard pediatric care; 4) increased support of maternal empathy as a core component of pediatric care; and 5) increased support by other stakeholders (including medical professionals, child health care facilities, and funders) to further explore, expand, and ultimately rollout the intervention.