Psychosocial Factors Related to Nausea, Vomiting, and Fatigue in Early Pregnancy


  • This study was supported in part by the Scott, Sherwood, and Brindley Foundation of Scott and White Hospital and Clinic, Texas A&M Health Science Center, Temple, TX.

Dr. Walker, The University of Texas at Austin, School of Nursing, 1700 Red River Street, Austin, TX 78701–1499. E-mail:


Purpose: To test whether nausea and vomiting or fatigue correlated with psychosocial variables.

Design: Descriptive, using secondary data from a prenatal database of 113 women in prenatal care in Texas. Mean gestational duration was 59 days at the time of data collection.

Methods: Psychosocial factors, frequency of nausea and vomiting and of fatigue were determined by use of questionnaires. Psychosocial measures had reliability and validity and included the Personal Resources Questionnaire and Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. A checklist was used for measuring nausea and vomiting and fatigue.

Findings: Of 113 participants, 30 (26.5%) reported no, 43 (38.1%) occasional, and 40 (35.4%) frequent nausea and vomiting. Depressive symptoms had the highest correlation with nausea and vomiting. Social support was negatively related to nausea and vomiting. Four (3.5%) women reported no fatigue, 49 (43.4%) reported occasional fatigue, and 60 (53.1%) reported frequent fatigue in the past month. Depressive symptoms had the highest correlation with fatigue. The chi-square statistic showed that fatigue was significantly related to employment. Fatigue was not significantly associated with work hours or stressfulness of jobs.

Conclusions: Only a limited number of psychosocial factors were associated with nausea and vomiting and fatigue in early pregnancy. Depression was related to physical symptoms, but unclear was whether depression preceded or resulted from the symptoms. Many women experienced symptoms, and better understanding of causality is needed to ameliorate the effects on women's well-being.