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Assessing maternal anxiety in pregnancy with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI): Issues of validity, location and participation

By Melanie Gunning, F C Denison, C J Stockley, S P Ho, H K Sandhu and R M Reynolds


The State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) has been widely used in research with pregnant women. However, few studies have examined its validity for this group. In this paper the content validity of the STAI, the impact of location and consequences for further participation of higher STAI scores are investigated for 215 pregnant women who completed the STAI at hospital or community based clinics. The study participants answered the open ended question, 'How do you feel about your pregnancy?' and whether or not they would be willing to take part in further research. Results indicated that STAI state scores reflected the nature of women's spontaneous comments regarding their pregnancy, with lower anxiety related to more 'positive' comments. The state scores were also found to be sensitive to the risk level associated with the clinic where the inventory was completed; higher scores related to high-risk localities. Women with the highest levels of state or trait anxiety were also less likely to wish to take part in further research. The study concludes that the STAI does reflect the anxiety-related experiences of pregnant women and that its use with pregnant women is appropriate in this respect; however, we recommend that future research notes the issue of potential recruitment biases. © 2010 Society for Reproductive and Infant Psychology

Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Year: 2010
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