Psychological profile of spouses of women with infertility in Nigeria

F O Fatoye, B A Eegunranti, A T Owolabi, G K Fatoye
African Journal of Medicine and Medical Sciences 2009, 38 (1): 63-9
Ninety five men who accompanied their wives to the fertility clinic of a Nigerian teaching hospital (index group) were compared with 95 matched controls using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Their rates of significant anxiety symptoms (24.2%) and depressive symptoms (20.0%) were higher than the corresponding rates of 13.7% and 9.5% for the controls. The higher rate of significant depressive symptoms in the infertility group was significant (p < 0.05). Their mean scores on the two subscales of HADS (anxiety and depressive subscales) were also significantly higher (p < 0.001). Results of multiple regression analysis indicated that lower anxiety symptoms were predicted by age group among subjects in the index group, indicating that belonging to higher age groups was associated with lower anxiety symptoms. In addition, lower anxiety symptoms were predicted by 'being very religious'. However, higher anxiety symptoms were predicted by previous exposure to couple counselling. On the predictors of depressive symptoms, lower symptoms were predicted by age group and religiosity while higher symptoms were predicted by respondents' previous exposure to couple counselling and higher number of wives. Other factors investigated such as level of education, duration of infertility, attitude towards child adoption, pressure from extended family members on account of infertility, expectation of the respondents on the possible outcome of treatment and the result of semen analysis were not observed as predictors of anxiety and/or depressive symptoms. The observations on emotional distress among these men, together with previous observations that counselling/support received from gynecological consultations is usually inadequate indicates that the quality of psychological support that is available to them needs to be improved and modified. Involvement of mental health professionals (psychiatrists and clinical psychologists) in the provision of psychological couple counselling for infertility-related emotional distress could improve the quality of support provided. The establishment of special counselling units in hospitals providing treatment for infertility is advocated.


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