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J Anxiety Disord. 2010 Apr;24(3):353-9. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2010.01.008. Epub 2010 Feb 6.

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

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  • 1University of Sussex, Brighton, UK. e.ford@qmul.ac.uk


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.


Women (N=138) completed questionnaires in pregnancy, 3-weeks and 3-months after birth, measuring prior trauma, beliefs, and coping in pregnancy; and birth interventions, social support, post-traumatic cognitions, and PTS symptoms post-birth.


Using structural equation modeling, a cognitive model explained 23% of the variance in PTS symptoms 3-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%.


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 3 months. A test of the model on a larger sample is warranted.

(c) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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