Aim and objectives. The aims of this study were to examine the association between (1) occupational social class and coping responses, (2) coping responses and infertility-related stress and (3) occupational social class and infertility-related distress.
Background. The coping strategies that individuals use in most of the stressful situations vary according to certain factors, such as, the appraised characteristics of the stressful condition, personality dispositions and social resources.
Design. This study was a cross-sectional survey.
Methods. The study involved 404 women undergoing infertility treatment at a public clinic in Athens, Greece. State and trait anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory), infertility-related stress (Copenhagen Multi-centre Psychosocial Infertility) and coping strategies (Copenhagen Multi-centre Psychosocial Infertility) were measured.
Results. Women of low/very low social class reported higher levels of active-confronting coping compared with women of higher social class (p < 0·001). A positive correlation between active-avoidance coping and both state and trait anxiety (r = 0·278 and 0·233, respectively, p < 0·01) was observed. The passive-avoidance coping scale was positively correlated with marital and personal stress (r = 0·186 and 0·146, respectively, p < 0·01). All three kinds of stress (marital, personal and social) were positively correlated with both active-avoidance (r = 0·302, 0·423 and 0·211, respectively, p < 0·01) and active-confronting scale (r = 0·150, 0·211 and 0·141, respectively, p < 0·01).
Conclusions. Infertile women of the lowest social class used more active-confronting coping and more passive-avoidance coping than women of the highest social class. Factors such as low social class and maladaptive coping strategies might contribute to infertility-related stress and anxiety.
Relevance to clinical practice. Nurses and midwives who work in infertility clinics should aim to identify individuals who are at high risk for infertility stress and adjustment difficulties and they should minimise the identified risk factors for infertility-related stress and strengthen the protective factors.