Journal article

Psychological perspectives on fear of childbirth

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Author list: Rondung, Elisabet;Sundin, Örjan;Thomtén, Johanna

Publication year: 2016

Start page: 80

End page: 91

Number of pages: 12

ISSN: 0887-6185

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.janxdis.2016.10.007

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Abstract

The objective of this narrative review was to examine the literature on fear of childbirth from a psychological perspective, addressing the specificity of childbirth fear, the pathways of fear acquisition, and the physiological, cognitive and behavioral aspects of fear. Systematic procedures for literature search, inclusion and exclusion left 86 original research papers for analysis. Findings summarize the body of knowledge for each area of interest, as well as the number of studies addressing each theme. Overall, few studies adopt a clear-cut psychological perspective, leaving the psychological mechanisms of childbirth fear largely unexplored. Although methodological limitations make conclusions difficult, results give a hint of etiological diversity and possible psychological mechanisms commonly described as transdiagnostic features in anxiety. Systematic investigations of psychological mechanisms, longitudinal studies exploring possible vicious circles of fear, and studies comparing psychological characteristics within the group of women fearing childbirth are identified as research areas of high priority.


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