Psychosocial services for couples in infertility treatment: what do couples really want?

Patient Educ Couns. 2014 Mar;94(3):390-5. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2013.10.025. Epub 2013 Nov 5.


Objectives: To describe the psychosocial supports that infertile couples desire to help cope with infertility-related distress, which psychosocial services they sought, and the benefits and drawbacks of these services.

Methods: Qualitative interview study with 32 heterosexual infertile couples seeking infertility treatment. Maximum variation sampling was used; data were analyzed using thematic analysis.

Results: Most couples desired psychosocial support, but only half of the sample sought support. Some couples met with psychologists for help with relationship conflict and coping strategies. Participants suggested peer mentoring to fulfill needs for coping, shared experience, and guidance through the treatment process. Couples also desired written information about practical and emotional aspects of treatment. Negative attitudes toward psychological counseling and a lack of information about support services prevented some couples from seeking support.

Conclusions: Infertile couples expressed numerous needs for psychosocial supports, but often felt that supports were not available. A variety of services should be offered in order to fulfill patients' varied needs.

Practice implications: Awareness of the reasons why patients desire psychosocial services will help clinicians to refer patients to currently available psychosocial supports, and will aid in the development of appropriate supports, including couples counseling, peer mentoring, and written information in lay language.

Keywords: Infertility; Patient education; Peer support; Psychological distress; Psychosocial support.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Counseling / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Infertility / psychology*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Support*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires