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Coping Processes of Couples Experiencing Infertility


*Brennan D. Peterson, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Chapman University, One University Drive, Orange, CA 92866 (

Christopher R. Newton, Psychologist, Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, London Health Sciences Centre, 339 Windermere Road, London, Ontario N6A 5A5, Canada (

Karen H. Rosen, Associate Professor, Marriage and Family Therapy Program, Virginia Tech, Northern Virginia Graduate Center, 7054 Haycock Road, Falls Church, VA 22043 (

Robert S. Schulman, Associate Professor, Department of Statistics, Virginia Tech, 212 Hutcheson Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061 (


Abstract: This study explored the coping processes of couples experiencing infertility. Participants included 420 couples referred for advanced reproductive treatments. Couples were divided into groups based on the frequency of their use of eight coping strategies. Findings suggest that coping processes, which are beneficial to individuals, may be problematic for one's partner. Couples where men used high amounts of distancing, while their partner used low amounts of distancing, reported higher levels of distress when compared to couples in the other groups. Conversely, couples with women who used high amounts of self-controlling coping, when paired with men who used low amounts of self-controlling coping, reported higher levels of distress. Implications of study findings are discussed, and ideas for future research are proposed.