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Health related quality of life across the perinatal period among Australian women

Authors

  • Elizabeth N Emmanuel RN, RM, PhD,

    Senior Lecturer, Corresponding author
    1. School of Nursing, Midwifery & Nutrition, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia
    • Correspondence: Elizabeth N Emmanuel, Senior Lecturer, School of Nursing, Midwifery & Nutrition, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia. Telephone: +61 7 4042 1306.

      E-mail: elizabeth.emmanuel@jcu.edu.au

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  • Jing Sun Ed, MEd, PhD

    Senior Lecturer
    1. School of Public Health, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia
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Abstract

Aims and objectives

To investigate the significant features in health-related quality of life and to examine the changes over time during the perinatal period.

Background

Health-related quality of life during the perinatal period is significant for women. Screening or surveillance during the perinatal period is inconsistent and often not part of continued assessment.

Design

Prospective.

Methods

Setting involved antenatal clinics at three public hospitals in metropolitan Brisbane, Australia. A total of 363 participants out of a cohort of 605 women completed all items of the Short Form-12 Health Survey in late pregnancy and again at 6 and 12 weeks postpartum.

Results

There was a significant difference across the three perinatal time periods in all the health-related quality-of-life subscales. Significant improvements were noted from late pregnancy to 6 weeks following childbirth and again at 12 weeks particularly in physical health, role physical, bodily pain, vitality, role emotional and mental health. Even when confounding variables such as maternal ages, partner status, parity, delivery type and ethnicity were introduced, significant improvements were noted. Maternal distress significantly related to almost all quality-of-life factors over time even when all possible confounding factors were controlled.

Conclusion

Significant changes occur in health-related quality of life across the perinatal period. All dimensions of health-related quality of life except for social functioning and maternal distress showed marked improvement following childbirth. During this period, maternal distress was negatively related to health-related quality of life.

Relevance to clinical practice

Nurses need to be mindful of the broader view of health as encompassed in health-related quality-of-life measures and the potential these have for alerting health professionals when providing care. More rigorous health assessment for mothers at risk is useful so that appropriate support and follow-up can be given.

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