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Infertility treatment and fertility-specific distress: A longitudinal analysis of a population-based sample of U.S. women

Listed author(s):
  • Greil, Arthur L.
  • McQuillan, Julia
  • Lowry, Michele
  • Shreffler, Karina M.

Because research on infertile women usually uses clinic-based samples of treatment seekers, it is difficult to sort out to what extent distress is the result of the condition of infertility itself and to what extent it is a consequence of the experience of infertility treatment. We use the National Survey of Fertility Barriers, a two-wave national probability sample of U.S. women, to disentangle the effects of infertility and infertility treatment on fertility-specific distress. Using a series of ANOVAs, we examine 266 infertile women who experienced infertility both at Wave 1 and at Wave 2, three years later. We compare eight groups of infertile women based on whether or not they have received treatment and on whether or not they have had a live birth. At Wave 1, infertile women who did not receive treatment and who had no live birth reported lower distress levels than women who received treatment at Wave 1 only, regardless of whether their infertility episode was followed by a live birth. At Wave 2, women who received no treatment have significantly lower fertility-specific distress than women who were treated at Wave 1 or at Waves 1 and 2, regardless of whether there was a subsequent live birth. Furthermore, fertility-specific distress did not increase over time among infertile women who did not receive treatment. The increase infertility-specific distress was significantly higher for women who received treatment at Wave 2 that was not followed by a live birth than for women who received no treatment or for women who received treatment at Wave 1 only. These patterns suggest that infertility treatment is associated with levels of distress over and above those associated with the state of being infertile in and of itself.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

Volume (Year): 73 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
Pages: 87-94

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Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:73:y:2011:i:1:p:87-94
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  1. Eugster, A. & Vingerhoets, A. J. J. M., 1999. "Psychological aspects of in vitro fertilization: a review," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 48(5), pages 575-589, March.
  2. King, Rosalind Berkowitz, 2003. "Subfecundity and anxiety in a nationally representative sample," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 739-751, February.
  3. Mindes, Erica J. & Ingram, Kathleen M. & Kliewer, Wendy & James, Cathy A., 2003. "Longitudinal analyses of the relationship between unsupportive social interactions and psychological adjustment among women with fertility problems," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(10), pages 2165-2180, May.
  4. Greil, Arthur L., 1997. "Infertility and psychological distress: A critical review of the literature," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 45(11), pages 1679-1704, December.
  5. White, Lynn & McQuillan, Julia & Greil, Arthur L. & Johnson, David R., 2006. "Infertility: Testing a helpseeking model," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 1031-1041, February.
  6. Malin, Maili & Hemminki, Elina & Räikkönen, Outi & Sihvo, Sinikka & Perälä, M-L, 2001. "What do women want? Women's experiences of infertility treatment," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 123-133, July.
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