Anxiety, depression, stress and trauma in couples attending an assisted conception unit and reasons for their reluctance to participate in a stress management program
Smart, N. J.
INTRODUCTION: Infertility has a major impact on the emotional well being of a couple. As many as one quarter of couples could experience some delay in starting a family (Green and Vassey, 1990). However, many of these couples are reluctant to attend therapy sessions intended to help them with the stresses involved in experiencing infertility.OBJECTIVES: To investigate the levels of anxiety, depression, stress and trauma in couples attending an Assisted Conception Unit (ACU) compared to the general population and to investigate the ACU patients' reluctance to participate in a Clinical Psychologist-led stress management group.DESIGN: A between subjects design was employed to compare results from participants attending an ACU to a matched control group from the general population. Members of the control group were matched for age, gender, relationship status and level of qualifications with individual ACU participants.METHODS: All subjects were invited to complete a short questionnaire consisting of assessments of anxiety, depression, stress and trauma along with demographic questions. Couples attending the ACU were also asked to complete a questionnaire designed specifically for this study to elicit their reasons for non-participation in a stress management programRESULTS: As hypothesised the results indicate that the ACU group was more stressed than the general population and that the women in this group appeared to be more severely affected. Their reasons for reluctance to participate in stress management varied as a function of the distress levels experienced. All results are discussed in relation to previously published findings.CONCLUSIONS: Although the experience of infertility is stressful infertile couples are reluctant to attend stress management groups. The introduction of any psychosocial intervention should take these findings into consideration. Clinical implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.