We conduct interdisciplinary research that aligns with the clinical goals of the program – namely, to promote optimal long-term developmental, behavioral, and medical outcomes of the baby and to address the challenges that parents face when having a baby with medical complications.

The populations that our research focuses on include: women with high-risk pregnancies who have an unborn baby with (or at high risk of being born with) medical complications, parents of newborn babies with medical complications (including babies with a prolonged stay in the NICU), parents coping with the loss of a baby, and babies as well as young children born with medical complications. 

For questions about our research, please email to Allison Dempsey, PhD at allison.dempsey@cuanschutz.edu.






3-D Model to Explain Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) 
PI: Allison Dempsey, PhD

TTTS is a condition affecting 10-15% of identical twin pregnancies where the two fetuses share a placenta but reside in separate amniotic sacs. This condition is difficult for providers to explain and for parents to understand. An anatomically accurate 3-D model may be an effective education tool in explaining this condition.

Parents and parenting partners who receive a TTTS diagnosis.


Even with anatomically accurate 3-D models, TTTS is still a difficult condition to explain and understand. This study raised important questions that warrant future research on this topic; how are providers assessing the effectiveness of their method of education? How do patients perceive their own understanding of a condition? Is patient satisfaction with their medical decision(s) correlated with their perceived understanding?


C-Section Desensitization
PI: Allison Dempsey, PhD

Women with high-risk pregnancies are more likely to experience stress and anxiety in anticipation of a C-Section.

Women with high-risk pregnancies currently scheduled for C-Section delivery.


A brief, single-session behavioral exposure intervention (C-Section walk-through) improves the birth experience and reduces stress and anxiety among women with fetal anomalies. We are currently in the process of expanding this pilot study to include multiple Children’s Hospitals around the country with hopes of securing NIH funding for a larger clinical trial.


Counseling Tool for Families with Fetal Anomalies 
PI: Allison Dempsey, PhD

Families who have an infant born with a high-risk medical condition need special psychosocial support.

Families who have recently received a high-risk medical diagnosis regarding the fetus.


The counseling tool we developed was found to be feasible, acceptable, and effective at promoting conversations about coping and quality of life among families receiving a high-risk fetal diagnosis.





Allison Dempsey, PhD Program Director 

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"By understanding the mechanisms behind mental health stressors during the perinatal period, we are striving to promote strong parent-child interactions and healthy biopsychosocial development for the child." 




303-724-1646 | Women's Behavioral Health and Wellness Line