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Research Article Open Access
Context: For many chronic medical conditions, social support yields positive outcomes. However, in cases of infertility, interactions have the potential to be experienced as painful and increase the likelihood of interpersonal withdrawal.
Objective: To study the extent fertility-treatment seeking women disclose negative fertility-related emotions, particular relationships utilized, and the relationship between disclosure and well-being.
Design: Participants completed a questionnaire following enrollment in fertility clinics.
Setting: Fertility specialty clinics.
Patient(s): Women presenting for medical assessment and treatment of infertility (n=42).
Intervention(s): Female clinic attendees were asked to participate.
Main outcome measure(s): Depression, general stress, and fertility-related distress were evaluated with established measures. An evaluation of fertility-related social support utilization was developed for this research.
Result(s): Relationships between positive well-being, pathology, and disclosure of negative emotions were noted, yet varied markedly by the specific social supports utilized. Withholding of negative emotions was associated with adverse psychological health for some variables assessed. Disclosure to other individuals with fertility concerns (i.e., spouse/partner, infertile peer) was high, but only associated with lowered relationship concerns and greater spiritual resilience with spouses/partners. Utilization of certain supports did not evidence any associations with mental health and, very rarely, utilization of specific supports was associated with adverse functioning.
Conclusion(s): Similarities and salient differences were noted between this study and other research evaluating perceived social support or disclosure of infertility generically defined. Engagement with particular social resources and disclosure of the emotional context of infertility may be markedly beneficial for reducing stress and improving well-being and warrant further longitudinal study.
Infertility, Social support, Disclosure, Stress, Distress, Resilience, Depression, Schizophrenia, Psychiatric Diagnosis, Neuropsychiatry