Proceedings of The Physiological Society

University of Edinburgh (2007) Proc Physiol Soc 6, PC1

Poster Communications

Anxiety in pregnancy: antenatal influences and perinatal outcome in the hospital and community setting

F. C. Denison1, M. D. Gunning4, C. J. Stockley2, S. P. Ho2, A. Zawiejska3, R. M. Reynolds3

1. Centre for Reproductive Biology, Queens Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Lothian, United Kingdom. 2. University of Edinburgh Medical School, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Lothian, United Kingdom. 3. Endocrinology Unit, Queens Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Lothian, United Kingdom. 4. Centre for Integrated Healthcare Research, Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh, Lothian, United Kingdom.


Objectives: To investigate factors affecting maternal anxiety during pregnancy using the State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI); to assess whether STAI is valid for measuring anxiety during pregnancy and to identify women suitable for a study on stress hormone action during pregnancy. Methods: 182 women aged 31.2 (6.3) yrs, with a singleton pregnancy, were recruited from “high” and “low” risk antenatal settings. Participants completed the STAI questionnaire, were asked an open-ended question about their feelings regarding the pregnancy and if they would be willing to participate in a further research study during this pregnancy. Maternal and neonatal demographics were recorded. Ethical approval and written informed consent were obtained. Results presented are mean +/- sd. Results: Mean state (35.6(10.1)) and trait (36.7(8.7)) anxiety scores were correlated (r=0.48, p<0.0001). Women attending “high risk” clinics had no difference in trait anxiety (36vs.37, p=ns), but higher state anxiety scores (37vs.32,p=0.008) than women attending “low risk” clinics. Lower anxiety scores were associated with increased parity (state r=-0.20, p<0.05),) and maternal age (trait 0.18, p=0.02). Higher anxiety scores were found in women reporting a negative response to their pregnancy (state 42vs.35, p=0.02; trait 42vs.36, p=0.03), making ‘worried’ comments (state 38vs.33, p=0.006; trait 39vs.35, p=0.007) and preferring not to participate in further research studies (state 38vs.34, p=0.03). Birthweight was lower in smokers (2938 vs.3264g, p=0.05) but was not associated with maternal STAI score. Conclusions: Many factors including location of antenatal assessment, parity, age and opinions about research affect STAI score. There need to be taken into account when undertaking research about the effects of anxiety on pregnancy. Acknowledgements: CJ Stockley and SP Ho received Summer Vacation Bursaries from the University of Edinburgh Medical School for carrying out this Project. A Zawiejska was supported by a Polish Student Fellowship.Reference 1 : Spielberger CD et al. 1983. Consulting Psychologists Press

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements