Aims and objectives. To compare the anxiety levels of Taiwanese women who continued with in vitro fertilisation treatment and those who discontinued treatment post-in vitro fertilisation failure.
Background. In vitro fertilisation is perceived as the last resort of infertility treatment. The impact of unsuccessful in vitro fertilisation treatment on psychological function has been documented; however, research comparing the levels of anxiety of women who cease and those who continue in vitro fertilisation post-failure is scant.
Design. A cross-sectional comparative study design was used.
Method. Fifty-eight women in whom in vitro fertilisation had failed within the previous year were recruited to this study from a medical centre in northern Taiwan; 34 women continued treatment and 24 discontinued treatment. The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory was used to assess their levels of anxiety.
Results. Women in the group who continued treatment exhibited higher state and trait anxiety (TA) than women in the group who discontinued treatment (p < 0·005). The number and frequency of in vitro fertilisation cycles were significantly higher in the group who continued treatment than in those who did not. A strong positive correlation between state and TA (r = 0·8, p < 0·01) existed in both groups.
Conclusions. Both groups exhibited considerable levels of anxiety; however, the women who continued in vitro fertilisation treatment had higher levels of anxiety than those who discontinued treatment.
Relevance to clinical practice. The level of anxiety of women who decide to continue in vitro fertilisation treatment should be assessed as early as possible and counselling services provided to women who experience in vitro fertilisation failure should concentrate more on relieving psychological distress. One year after discontinuing treatment, some women still experience considerable anxiety; therefore, the care and assistance provided to these women need to be continually evaluated.