COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Psychosocial, treatment, and demographic predictors of the stress associated with infertility

A Abbey, L J Halman, F M Andrews
Fertility and Sterility 1992, 57 (1): 122-8
1730305

OBJECTIVE: To determine which psychosocial, treatment, and demographic factors relate to the amount of perceived stress that infertile women and men experience.

DESIGN: A cross-sectional, structured interview research design was used.

SETTING: In-person interviews were conducted in study participants' homes.

PARTICIPANTS: Wives and husbands from 185 couples in Southeastern Michigan with primary infertility were studied.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: A nine-item rating scale of perceived stress associated with infertility was the outcome measure.

RESULTS: For both women and men, stress was significantly positively correlated with treatment costs and number of tests and treatments received; stress was significantly negatively correlated with confidence that one will have a child and perceived control. For women only, attitudes about infertility treatments, importance of children, attributions of responsibility to physicians, and social support also significantly related to perceived stress. For men only, income, number of physicians seen, and self attributions of responsibility also significantly related to perceived stress.

CONCLUSIONS: As hypothesized, a variety of treatment characteristics and psychosocial factors were related to experienced stress. Contrary to expectation, demographic factors such as age and number of years married were not related to experienced stress. This study's results suggest that attempts by health care providers to increase patients' sense of control, optimism (within realistic limits), and social support should reduce stress.

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