Pregnancy termination for fetal abnormality: do coping strategies predict perinatal grief and posttraumatic growth?

Lafarge, Caroline (2016) Pregnancy termination for fetal abnormality: do coping strategies predict perinatal grief and posttraumatic growth? In: The Reproductive Health Summit, 19-21 April 2016, London, UK. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Background - Pregnancy termination for fetal abnormality (TFA) represents 2% of all terminations in England and Wales. This number has increased in recent years (3,099 in 2014 vs. 2,085 in 2009, Department of Health, 2010-2015) due to technological developments in prenatal diagnosis and increased maternal age, which have led to more fetal abnormalities being identified. TFA can have negative psychological consequences for women, including depression, posttraumatic stress disorder and complicated grief (Kersting et al., 2007, 2009; Korenromp et al., 2009). However, little is known of women’s coping processes when dealing with TFA despite evidence of a relationship between coping and psychological adjustment (Carver & Connor-Smith, 2010; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Similarly, although research indicates that some individuals experience positive growth as a result of trauma (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004) no research has been conducted on potential positive psychological outcomes following TFA.

Aims - The objective of the study was to gain insights into women’s coping strategies when dealing with TFA and examine the relationship between coping and psychological adjustment as defined by perinatal grief and posttraumatic growth.

Methods - A quantitative retrospective study was conducted between February and May 2014. Participants were recruited from a support organisation and completed the Brief COPE, the Short Perinatal Grief Scale and the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory. Data were collected online from 161 participants, and analysed using multiple regression analyses.

Results - Despite mainly using adaptive coping strategies, women’s levels of grief were high and, for some, distress persisted long after the termination. Only moderate levels of growth were observed. A relationship between coping and psychological adjustment was evidenced. In particular, coping strategies such as ‘acceptance’ and ‘positive reframing’ were closely associated with lower levels of grief, whilst ‘self-blame’ and ‘behavioural disengagement’ related to higher grief levels. Similarly, ‘positive reframing’ was a significant predictor of posttraumatic growth.

Implications – The study has several practical implications including: the need to identify women at risk of poor psychological adjustment and the need for a truly women-centred care. Furthermore, coping strategies such as ‘acceptance’ and ‘positive reframing’ appear particularly relevant as potential protective factors against distress and foundation for growth. Interventions such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy may be beneficial for women.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
Subjects: Psychology
Depositing User: Caroline Lafarge
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2016 13:35
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2017 12:01
URI: http://repository.uwl.ac.uk/id/eprint/2690

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