Psychosocial distress associated with treatment of hypertensive diseases in pregnancy

Psychosomatics. Sep-Oct 2008;49(5):413-9. doi: 10.1176/appi.psy.49.5.413.


Background: Hypertensive diseases in pregnancy (HDP) are a great challenge for healthcare providers.

Objective: The study aimed to investigate the experience of women developing HDP with different stressors associated with healthcare after a diagnosis of HDP.

Method: A self- administered questionnaire referring to stress associated with general aspects, hospital stay, and mode of delivery was given to a convenience sample of 738 women with one pregnancy complicated by HDP.

Results: The three main aspects causing stress after diagnosis of HDP were the duration of hospital stay for women having to stay at least 7 days in the hospital, the infant's prematurity, and uncertainty about the child's health. Most stress factors did not vary among women showing different types of HDP, but with infants' gestational age at delivery.

Conclusion: The diagnosis of HDP leads to important stress during pregnancy. In addition to stressors caused by other obstetrical complications, women developing HDP have to deal with a sudden and dramatic change in fetal health risk as well as their own sometimes life-threatening situation. Because stress may have an unfavorable effect on the clinical course of the disease, these aspects should be considered when treating women with HDP.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Hypertension* / epidemiology
  • Hypertension* / psychology
  • Hypertension* / rehabilitation
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires