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Exploration of a cognitive model to predict post-traumatic stress symptoms following childbirth

Ford, E., Ayers, S. & Bradley, R. (2010). Exploration of a cognitive model to predict post-traumatic stress symptoms following childbirth. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 24, pp. 353-359. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2010.01.008


Women can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following childbirth. This study investigated the application of a cognitive model to PTS symptoms following childbirth and explored the addition of social support to the model.

Methods: Women (N=138) completed questionnaires in pregnancy, three-weeks and three-months after birth, measuring prior trauma, beliefs, and coping in pregnancy; and birth interventions, social support, post-traumatic cognitions, and PTS symptoms post-birth.

Results: Using structural equation modeling, a cognitive model explained 23% of the variance in PTS symptoms three-weeks postpartum. Three-months postpartum, the model explained only 9% of the variance in PTS symptoms. The addition of social support, partially mediated by post-traumatic cognitions, increased the variance to 16%.

Discussion: Results suggest that a cognitive model accounts for early PTS symptoms after birth. Social support after birth increases the explanatory power of the model at three months. A test of the model on a larger sample is warranted.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: childbirth, PTSD, cognitions, social support
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Departments: School of Health Sciences > Nursing
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