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Stressful events and support during birth: The effect on anxiety, mood, and perceived control

Ford, E. & Ayers, S. (2009). Stressful events and support during birth: The effect on anxiety, mood, and perceived control. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 23(2), pp. 260-268. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2008.07.009


Following childbirth, 16% of women may have anxiety disorders and 2% develop PTSD. It is important to identify factors that influence women's emotional reactions to birth. This study investigated how stressful events and support from hospital staff during birth each affects women's anxiety and perceived control.

Methods: A between-subjects experimental design used birth stories to manipulate levels of stressful events (high/low) and support (high/low) during birth. Participants (n = 137) imagined undergoing one of the birth experiences and rated their perceived control, mood, and anxiety.

Results: Manipulation checks indicated the birth stories reliably elicited mood responses. Anxiety, mood, and perceived control were more strongly influenced by support than by stressful events. There was a significant interaction between stressful events and support for perceived control.

Conclusions: Level of support from hospital staff during birth has a greater effect on women's emotional reactions than stressful events. Supportive care during birth increases perceived control and reduces anxiety and negative mood.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Stress; Support; Control; Childbirth; Anxiety; PTSD
Subjects: R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
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