Screening for trauma and anxiety recognition: knowledge, management and attitudes amongst gynecologists regarding women with fear of childbirth and postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder

J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2020 Aug;33(16):2759-2767. doi: 10.1080/14767058.2018.1560409. Epub 2019 Jan 4.

Abstract

Objective: Fear of childbirth (FoC) and postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder (PP-PTSD) are often less well recognized by healthcare professionals than other peripartum mental health disorders. This study aims to evaluate knowledge, management and attitudes of gynecologists and gynecology residents regarding women with FoC and PP-PTSD.Study design: A cross-sectional study was conducted among gynecologists and gynecology residents using an online questionnaire. An invitation was sent to all 1401 members of the Dutch Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology.Results: Two hundred forty-four respondents completed the online multiple-choice and open question survey. More respondents were able to answer the questions about risk factors, signs/symptoms and consequences of FoC in comparison with similar questions about PP-PTSD. When asked about performing a cesarean section on maternal request, 74% of respondents would grant this request if fear would persist despite adequate psychological treatment. During labor, providing good explanations and obtaining informed consent were most frequently named to reduce fear or the likelihood of a traumatic birth experience. Caregivers' attitudes towards women with FoC or suspected PP-PTSD were mainly positive.Conclusions: Further knowledge, in particular about PP-PTSD, is desirable for appropriate recognition of women with FoC and PP-PTSD. Gynecologists should be made more aware of how their communication is perceived by patients, given the discrepancy between patients' experiences and the attitudes gynecologists report themselves. For optimizing the organization of care, we would recommend the use of a clear (inter)national policy regarding maternal requests for cesarean section (CS).Brief rationaleThe objective of this study was to evaluate knowledge and awareness regarding fear of childbirth (FOC) and postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder (PP-PTSD) among gynecologists and gynecology residents, assessing their attitudes towards women suffering from these conditions, and evaluating organization of care.The main findings and recommendations of the study include that gynecologists should be better trained to appropriately recognize fear of childbirth and postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder, and they should be made more aware of how their communication is perceived by patients, given the discrepancy between patients' experiences and the attitudes gynecologists report themselves.

Keywords: Education; fear of childbirth; postpartum; posttraumatic stress disorder; pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / diagnosis*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gynecology / education
  • Gynecology / methods
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Parturition / psychology*
  • Postpartum Period / psychology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires