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J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2004 Sep-Dec;25(3-4):273-9.

Psychological group support attenuates distress of waiting in couples scheduled for assisted reproduction.

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MotherInfant Department, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy.


The aim of the study is to determine whether a cognitive-behavioral group treatment could lead to a decrease of psychological distress in couples waiting for assisted reproduction. Fifty consecutive couples included in the waiting list for IVF-ET or ICSI were randomly allocated either to receive Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment (CBT Group) or just waiting (Observation Group). The group is formed by 8-10 couples; 12 meetings are provided for a period of 4 months. Two psychometric test have been administered (Symptom Rating Test and Westbrook Coping Scales) at baseline and after 4 months. At baseline, females showed a higher level of SRT than males (F= 16.6+/-14.1; M = 10.2+/-9.0; p=0.01). This became evident for anxiety (F= 5.6+/-4.9; M =3.3+/-3.0, p = 0.004), somatization (F= 3.0+/-2.5; M = 1.8+/-2.1, p = 0.01) and feelings of inadequacy (F = 3.9+/-3.7; M = 2.3+/-2.7, p = 0.01). After 4 months in the males of Observation Group (from 2.3+/-2.0 to 4.0+/-2.8, p=0.01) there was an increase of the level of anxiety. No other meaningful differences in other variables were found. In females of CBT Group a trend towards a significant decrease in the total value of psychological uneasiness (the SRT) (from 17.7+/-13.7 to 14.1+/-14.0, p = 0.07) was found. A long wait before the scheduled intervention of assisted reproduction increased anxiety levels, namely in male partners. CBT avoids such a 'waiting stress' and could be useful for stimulating discussion and awareness inside the couple. Shortening the waiting list and psychological support would be provided by infertility centres.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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