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A prospective longitudinal study of the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from childbirth events


Alcorn, KL and O'Donovan, A and Patrick, JC and Creedy, D and Devilly, GJ, A prospective longitudinal study of the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from childbirth events, Psychological Medicine, 40, (1) pp. 1849-1859. ISSN 0033-2917 (2010) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2010 Cambridge University Press

DOI: doi:10.1017/S0033291709992224


Background. Childbirth has been linked to postpartum impairment. However, controversy exists regarding the onset and prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after childbirth, with seminal studies being limited by methodological issues. This longitudinal prospective study examined the prevalence of PTSD following childbirth in a large sample while controlling for pre-existing PTSD and affective symptomatology.

Method. Pregnant women in their third trimester were recruited over a 12-month period and interviewed to identify PTSD and anxiety and depressive symptoms during the last trimester of pregnancy, 4-6 weeks postpartum, 12 weeks postpartum and 24 weeks postpartum.

Results. Of the 1067 women approached, 933 were recruited into the study. In total, 866 (93%) were retained to 4-6 weeks, 826 (89%) were retained to 12 weeks and 776 (83%) were retained to 24 weeks. Results indicated that, uncontrolled, 3.6% of women met PTSD criteria at 4-6 weeks postpartum, 6.3% at 12 weeks postpartum and 5.8% at 24 weeks postpartum. When controlling for PTSD and partial PTSD due to previous traumatic events as well as clinically significant anxiety and depression during pregnancy, PTSD rates were less at 1.2% at 4-6 weeks, 3.1% at 12 weeks and 3.1% at 24 weeks postpartum.

Conclusions. This is the first study to demonstrate the occurrence of full criteria PTSD resulting from childbirth after controlling for pre-existing PTSD and partial PTSD and clinically significant depression and anxiety in pregnancy. The findings indicate that PTSD can result from a traumatic birth experience, though this is not the normative response.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:childbirth, prevalence, postnatal, trauma
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Social and personality psychology
Research Field:Gender psychology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Evaluation of health and support services
Objective Field:Evaluation of health outcomes
UTAS Author:Patrick, JC (Dr Jeff Patrick)
ID Code:75476
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:172
Deposited By:Management
Deposited On:2012-01-31
Last Modified:2012-10-01
Downloads:18 View Download Statistics

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