Anxiety scales used in pregnancy: systematic review

BJPsych Open. 2019 Jan;5(1):e5. doi: 10.1192/bjo.2018.75.


Background: Anxiety disorders and self-reported symptoms are highly prevalent in pregnancy. Despite their negative impact on maternal and child outcomes, uncertainty remains regarding which symptoms can be considered accurate indicators of antenatal anxiety.AimsTo examine and synthesise the evidence in relation to the psychometric properties and content of self-report scales used to detect anxiety symptoms in pregnant women.

Method: A systematic search was carried out and the methodological quality of all included studies was assessed. Only those achieving a rating of good or excellent were considered in a synthesis of the best available evidence.

Results: Several anxiety symptoms and domains were identified as promising for screening for general antenatal anxiety and pregnancy-related anxiety, including elevated levels of worry, symptoms of panic, fear of childbirth and excessive worries about the baby's health.

Conclusions: This review contributes to the existing knowledge by identifying a number of anxiety symptoms that can be considered psychometrically robust indicators of antenatal anxiety.Declaration of interestNone.

Keywords: Pregnancy; anxiety disorders; pregnancy-specific anxiety; psychometric properties; screening.