Journal Article
Meta-Analysis
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The effect of non-pharmacological prenatal interventions on fear of childbirth: an overview of systematic reviews and meta-analysis.

BMC Psychiatry 2024 June 5
BACKGROUND: During pregnancy and childbirth, alongside positive feelings, women undergo feelings such as fear of childbirth (FoC) and worry about its consequences, which could leave negative effects on the mother and her child during pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum. The study was carried out to determine the effectiveness of prenatal non-pharmacological interventions on reducing the FoC.

METHODS: The protocol of the study was registered in PROSPERO (ID: CRD42023468547). PubMed, Web of Science, Cochrane, Scopus, SID (Scientific Information Database) and Google Scholar search engine databases were systematically searched until July 27, 2023 with no limitation of time and limited to Persian and English studies in order to perform this overview. Certainty of evidence was assessed using GRADE, methodological quality using AMSTAR 2 and reporting quality using PRISMA score. Meta-analysis was performed on the data extracted from the original trials to evaluate the effect of different interventions on reducing the FoC. Sub-group analysis and meta-regression models were used to examine high heterogeneity, and sensitivity analysis was used to eliminate the effect of high risk of bias studies on the study findings.

RESULTS: Overall, 15 systematic reviews (SRs) were included in the overview, among which meta-analysis was performed in 9 studies. Considering methodological quality, these SRs were in low to critically low status and had relatively complete reports regarding reporting quality. Meta-analysis findings indicated that psychological interventions (SMD -2.02, 95% CI -2.69 to -1.36, 16 trials, 1057 participants, I2 = 95%) and prenatal educations (SMD -0.88, 95% CI -1.16 to -0.61, 4 trials, 432 participants, I2 = 72.8%) cause a significant reduction in FoC relative to prenatal usual cares with low certainty of evidence. Distraction techniques lead to a significant reduction in FoC relative to prenatal usual care with high certainty of evidence (SMD -0.75, 95% CI -1.18 to -0.33, 4 trials, 329 participants, I2 = 69%), but enhanced cares do not result in a significant decrease FoC relative to prenatal usual care with very low certainty of evidence (SMD -1.14, 95% CI -2.85 to 0.58, 3 trials, 232 participants, I2 = 97%).

CONCLUSIONS: Distraction techniques are effective in reducing FoC. Regarding the effect of psychological interventions and prenatal educations on the reduction of FoC, the findings indicated that the interventions may result in the reduction of FoC. Very uncertain evidence showed that enhanced cares are not effective in reducing the FoC.

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