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Keywords:

  • infertility;
  • psychological strain/distress;
  • psychopathology;
  • counselling

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to explore the relationship between psychological state and perceived strain in relation to fertility problems. Couples presenting at an infertility clinic completed, on two occasions seven months apart, a series of standardized measures to assess psychopathology. In addition, they completed a weekly diary rating their mood state or distress/strain over a period of 22 weeks, during which investigations and treatment were taking place. Little evidence of psychopathology was found in the sample; the weekly diaries also suggested a general lack of distress/strain, even in response to medical investigations and diagnosis. The results are discussed in the light of wide individual variations in ratings obtained from the diaries. Participants with high distress/strain scores tended to have significantly higher initial scores on the psychometric measures administered. Participants with high distress/strain scores were also more likely to show a further significant increase in distress/strain scores in relation to diagnostic information. It is argued that a task for future research is to determine the characteristics of those couples who are likely to experience difficulty in coping with the strain of infertility investigations so that counselling resources and support services can be most effectively targeted. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.