The Effect of Amniocentesis on Parental Anxiety and Self Concept
Thomas, Maureen Mulroy
Dittmann, Laura L.
MetadataShow full item record
The purpose of this study was to provide prospective information about the psychological consequences of amniocentesis for both the husband and wife. Amniocentesis is a procedure in which a sample of amniotic fluid is withdrawn from the amniotic sac surrounding the fetus during the second trimester of pregnancy and which is then cultured and tested for the presence of biochemical and chromosomal defects in the fetus. By gathering anxiety and self concept data before and after the results of the amniocentesis were known and then comparing it to similar data collected from pregnant couples who did not opt for the amniocentesis procedure, it was hoped that the following research questions would be answered. 1. Do individuals' levels of anxiety and self concept change after receiving the results of the amniocenteses? 2. Are there differences in women's and men's levels of anxiety and self concept before or after receiving the results of the amniocenteses? 3. Are the levels of anxiety and self concept of couples who have amniocenteses different from the levels of anxiety and self concept of couples who are pregnant but who do not have amniocenteses? There were two sources of data for this study. The first source was the treatment group which was composed of 25 women and their spouses who had an amniocentesis performed during the fifth month of pregnancy. The second source of data was the comparison group which was composed of 25 women and their spouses who were pregnant but who did not have an amniocentesis performed. These two groups were comparable in terms of socioeconomic status, educational achievement, racial composition, and religious affiliation. Both groups were interviewed at home on two occasions and during these times they were asked to describe their pregnancy experiences and to respond to the Institute of Personality and Ability Testing Anxiety Scale Questionnaire and the Tennessee Self Concept Scale. To determine if changes occur in the treatment group's anxiety and self concept scores after receiving the test results, correlated t-Tests were performed. It was found that there were no statistically significant changes in either the women's or men's level of anxiety and self concept after receiving negative amniocentesis results. Negative amniocentesis results mean that the fetus has been found to be free of certain genetic defects. To answer the second research question concerning differences in anxiety and self concept scores for the treatment women and men, a series of oneway analyses of variance were performed on the data. It was found that the treatment group women had statistically higher levels of anxiety then their spouses both before and after the results of the amniocentesis were known. In terms of the self concept, the analyses revealed no evidence of statistical differences between the amniocenteis women and men. To determine if there were differences in levels of anxiety and self concept for treatment and comparison group couples, another series of oneway analyses of variance were performed. It was found that there were no statistically significant differences between the treatment and comparison group women in terms of anxiety or self concept but there were statistically significant differences between the men. The treatment group men were found to be significantly less anxious than the comparison group men both before and after receiving the negative amniocentesis results. In terms of self concept, the treatment group men were found to feel significantly more positive about themselves before the results of the amniocentesis were known but not after. Based on this study's findings, it would seem that the degree of anxiety experienced by the amniocentesis couple during the waiting period is relative to the sex of the individual and is, at worst, no greater than that associated with being pregnant. It would also seem that in the early weeks after the diagnosis is known, negative amniocentesis results do little to reduce a couple's feelings of anxiety. Finally, it would seem that there is no decrease in a couple's self concept as a results of having an amniocentesis performed. Explanations for the discrepancies between this study's findings and the amniocentesis literature were given. They were grouped into one of three categories-- psychological orientation of the couples, demographic variables, and study design differences. Suggestions were also given for improving the genetic counseling amniocentesis couples receive as a result of this study's findings and areas for further investigation were discussed.