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Factors associated with post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) 4-6 weeks and 6 months after birth: A longitudinal population-based study

Dikmen-Yildiz, P., Ayers, S. & Phillips, L. (2017). Factors associated with post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) 4-6 weeks and 6 months after birth: A longitudinal population-based study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 221, pp. 238-245. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2017.06.049


BACKGROUND: Identifying factors that precipitate and maintain post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) after birth is important to inform clinical and research practice; yet, prospective longitudinal studies on the predictors of PTSS are limited. This study aimed to determine the pregnancy and postpartum factors associated with PTSS at 4-6 weeks and 6-months postpartum.

METHOD: A systematic sample of 950 pregnant women were recruited from three maternity hospitals in Turkey. Participants completed assessments of depression, anxiety, PTSS and social support in pregnancy, 4-6 weeks and 6-months postpartum. Fear of childbirth was assessed in pregnancy and 4-6 weeks after birth.

RESULTS: Regression models showed that PTSS six months after birth were associated with anxiety and PTSS in pregnancy, complications during birth, satisfaction with health professionals, fear of childbirth 4-6 weeks after birth, PTSS and depression 4-6 weeks after birth, social support 4-6 weeks after birth, traumatic events after birth, need for psychological help, and social support 6-months after birth. PTSS was highly comorbid with depression and anxiety at all-time points. The most robust predictor of PTSS at 6-months postpartum was PTSS at 4-6 weeks postpartum. Intra-partum complications were not associated with PTSS 4-6 weeks after birth. No socio-demographic variables were correlated with PTSS postpartum.

LIMITATIONS: Self-report questionnaires were used to measure outcomes. This study is based on sampling from public hospitals so may not represent women treated in private hospitals.

CONCLUSIONS: Associated risk factors may help to identify women at risk of PTSS after birth and to inform targeted early intervention.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2017, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Publisher Keywords: Post-traumatic stress symptoms; Childbirth; Risk factors; Longitudinal; Pregnancy; Postpartum
Subjects: R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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