Experimental emotional disclosure in women undergoing infertility treatment: Are drop outs better off?

Soc Sci Med. 2009 Sep;69(5):678-81. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.06.031. Epub 2009 Jul 15.


So far, the beneficial effects of personal written emotional disclosure have been mainly examined in relation to past or current stressful/traumatic experiences. The anticipation of a medical event has rarely been studied within this paradigm. This randomized-controlled study examined whether written emotional disclosure would reduce emotional distress and increase pregnancy rates in women undergoing in-vitro fertilization treatment. Participants recruited from women who were undergoing IVF in the north of Greece (n=148) were randomized to an emotional-writing condition, a fact-writing condition and a control condition. Outcomes included fertility-related distress, general distress and a positive indication of pregnancy. Psychological and medical information about women who refused to participate were also collected, and this represented a fourth group for analysis (n=66). Results indicated no significant difference between groups in terms of emotional distress. However, a significant difference was observed with regard to pregnancy results, with the non-participants group reporting the highest percentage of pregnancies. The present study did not support the hypotheses that emotional disclosure will reduce infertility-related or general psychological distress and improve pregnancy outcomes in women undergoing in-vitro fertilization treatment. However, women who refused to participate in the study were more likely to get pregnant. Differences in the beneficial effects of emotional disclosure are discussed.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Embryo Transfer / psychology
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro / psychology*
  • Fertilization in Vitro / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infertility / psychology*
  • Patient Dropouts / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Writing