Predicting posttraumatic stress disorder after childbirth
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Objective around 50% of women report symptoms that indicate some aspect of their childbirth experience was 'traumatic', and at least 3.1% meet diagnosis for PTSD six months post partum. Here we aimed to conduct a prospective longitudinal study and examine predictors of birth-related trauma - predictors that included a range of pre-event factors - as a first step in the creation of a screening questionnaire. Method of the 933 women who completed an assessment in their third trimester, 866 were followed-up at four to six week post partum. Two canonical discriminant function analyses were conducted to ascertain factors associated with experiencing birth as traumatic and, of the women who found the birth traumatic, which factors were associated with those who developed PTSD. Findings a mix of 16 pre-birth predictor variables and event-specific predictor variables distinguished women who reported symptoms consistent with trauma from those who did not. Fourteen predictor variables distinguished women who went on to develop PTSD from those who did not. Conclusions anxiety sensitivity to possible birthing problems, breached birthing expectations, and severity of any actual birth problem, predicted those who found the birth traumatic. Prior trauma was the single most important predictive factor of PTSD. Evaluating the utility of brief, cost-effective, and accurate screening for women at risk of developing birth-related PTSD is suggested.
Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology