Low rates of PTSD in men attending childbirth: A preliminary study


Correspondence should be addressed to Professor Pauline Slade, Clinical Psychology Unit, Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TP, UK (p.slade@sheffield.ac.uk).



To investigate whether men experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after attending their partner's labour and delivery and the prevalence and predictors of symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and depression.


This quantitative study involved a large sample, within-participants design with questionnaires completed at recruitment and six weeks follow-up.


Within 72 hours of attending their partner giving birth, 199 men provided demographic details and completed questions about their partner's pregnancy, labour and delivery. Six weeks later they completed a second questionnaire booklet containing measures of symptoms of post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression.


No men reported symptoms at significant levels on all three dimensions of PTSD (intrusions, avoidance, and hyperarousal) although 12% reported clinically significant symptoms on at least one dimension. The dimension with the highest frequency was hyperarousal. Linear regression indicated more PTSD symptoms were predicted by trait anxiety, fewer children, the pregnancy being unplanned, being present at actual delivery, and feeling less confident about coping, less prepared, and more distressed during the process of childbirth. Prevalence of clinically significant symptoms of depression and anxiety was 8 and 7%, respectively, and was predicted by higher trait anxiety.


In this sample there was little evidence for the full constellation of PTSD in men attending their partner giving birth. Using a trauma perspective in this context may not be supported. Those symptoms most commonly reported could be viewed primarily as anxiety and were linked with less previous experience of attending childbirth. Attendance at actual delivery was a key predictor of symptoms.