1 Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University2 Center for Psykotraumatologi, Institut for Psykologi, Syddansk Universitet3 Academisch Medisch Centrum, Universiteit van Amsterdam4 Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University
PTSD symptoms up to 18 years after the lossPTSD-symptomer op til 18 år senere
Losing an infant or fetus late in pregnancy, during birth or in the first year of life is a potentially traumatic event for parents. However, little is known about the factors contributing to chronic posttraumatic stress reactions in this population. The present study examined chronic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and potential correlates in 634 mothers and fathers up to 18 years (M=3.4 years) after the death of their infant. Members of a private national support organization for parents bereaved by infant death were contacted and asked to participate in the study. Participants filled out a questionnaire package including measures of PTSD (the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire), coping (the Coping Style Questionnaire), perceived social support (the Crisis Support Scale) and attachment (the Revised Adult Attachment Scale). Associations between variables were examined through the use of analyses of variance, correlation analyses and a regression analysis. We found an estimated PTSD prevalence of 12.3%. Type of loss (pre-, peri- or postnatal) did not have any effect on PTSD severity, but lower gestational age was associated with more symptoms. Time since the loss, female sex, attachment avoidance, attachment anxiety, emotion-focused coping, avoidant coping, feeling let down and social support satisfaction accounted for 44% of the variance in PTSD severity. The study highlights the long-term impact of infant loss and points to attachment, coping and social support as important contributors to the development and maintenance of posttraumatic stress symptoms.
General Hospital Psychiatry, 2013, Vol 35, Issue 6, p. 605-611