Department of Psychiatry

Penn Behavioral Health

Research Studies

Research Opportunities for Pregnant Women

The Penn Center for Women’s Behavioral Wellness is currently recruiting pregnant women for the following research participation opportunities: 

  • Studies examining the impact of maternal experience on birth outcomes
  • Studies aimed at helping pregnant women experiencing depression. None of our current studies involve treatment with medication.

Pregnancy Studies for All Pregnant Women:

Maternal Adversity and Infant Stress Response Study:

This study examines how difficult life events experienced during pregnancy may impact how your infant responds to stress.  We are looking for both women who have not experienced difficult life events and women who have had to cope with unpleasant experiences.   This study is observational and does not offer any form of treatment or medication.

For this study, you will be asked to fill out forms about your physical and mental health, have 3-D ultrasounds taken of your baby’s adrenal gland, and undergo 2 or 3 tests that will measure your stress responses.  At 6 months post-delivery, your baby's developmental milestones will also be assessed.

This is a long-term study, consisting of 6 or 7 visits over the course of about 12 months. Six of the visits are required, while the 7th is optional.  If you complete all 7 visits, you may be compensated up to $275.

Please call Grace today for more information at 215-746-1158

Stress and Pregnancy Study

This study, funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health, aims to determine whether a new psychotherapy treatment for partial or mild Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can help to alleviate PTSD symptoms, or accompanying depressive symptoms, in pregnant women.

We are looking for both pregnant women who have experienced difficult life events and pregnant women who have not had such experiences. 

Eligable women must be:

  • Over 18 years old,
  • Fluent in spoken and written English
  • Between 12-20 weeks pregnant

This study consists of up to 7 visits, which will take place at the Helen O. Dickens Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.  You will receive 4 sessions of individual treatment with a study therapist.  Additionally, you will be asked to fill out forms about your physical and mental health, undergo 3 tests to measure your stress response, and have your blood and saliva collected 3 times. 

All treatments are provided free of charge.  If you complete all 7 visits, you may be compensated up to $260 for your time and travel to the study.

Women without trauma-related or depressive symptoms will be invited to participate in a one time assessment, which includes a stress test, filling out forms about physical and mental health, and having your blood and saliva collected.  If you complete this one time assessment you may be compensated up to $50.

Please call Stephanie today for more information at 215-573-9695

TMS Treatment Study

This study is investigating a new treatment for depression during pregnancy called Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).  This study is funded by the National Institute of Health.

TMS is a non-invasive method used in the treatment of depressive symptoms. TMS uses electromagnetic impulses to encourage neurons in the brain to communicate more effectively with one another.  Effective neuron communication leads to the lessening of depressive symptoms.  TMS requires daily (Monday through Friday) treatment for approximately 4 weeks.

TMS is an FDA approved treatment for depression.  While the device has been FDA approved for medication resistant depression, the purpose of this study is to look at whether TMS is an effective treatment during pregnancy.  Previous research has found it to be safe for both mother and fetus.

Dr. Kim is looking for pregnant women who meet the following criteria:

  • Are between the ages of 18-39 and in good health
  • Are between 14-34 weeks pregnant upon entry into study
  • Have been diagnosed with Depression/Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

You can help researchers at the University of Pennsylvania learn more about the best way to treat depression during pregnancy by participating in this study. You may earn up to $500 if you qualify.

Please call Jessica today for more information at 215-573-8880

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  • You can watch a short video explaining TMS by clicking here
  • Click to watch a video about Dr. Kim's TMS research study

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