Do patients at risk for psychological maladjustment during fertility treatment present lower intentions to comply with recommended treatment than patients not at risk?
Patients at risk of psychological maladjustment present similar high intentions to comply with recommended fertility treatment to those not at risk but their intentions are conditioned by the degree of control they perceive over their fertility and its treatment and their capacity to accept a future without biological children.
Infertile couples refer to the psychological burden of treatment as one of the most important reasons for withdrawal from recommended treatment. The SCREENIVF can be used before treatment to screen patients at risk for psychological maladjustment by assessing five risk factors: anxiety, depression, helplessness and lack of acceptance cognitions and social support.
Cross-sectional study. First, we investigated the psychometric properties of the Portuguese version of the SCREENIVF. Secondly, we investigated associations between risk for psychological maladjustment and intentions to comply with treatment.
Two hundred and ninety-one women and 92 men undergoing any stage of fertility treatment at Portuguese infertility clinics were recruited online or in the clinical setting (55% response rate). Participants completed questionnaires that assessed their emotional adjustment, quality of life and compliance intentions.
The confirmatory factor analysis for the SCREENIVF indicated good fit [χ(2) = 188.50, P < 0.001; comparative fit index = 0.97; root-mean-square error of approximation = 0.06 (90% CI 0.05-0.07)] and all dimensions were reliable (α ≥ 0.70, except depression for men: α = 0.66). Fifty-two percent of women and 30% of men were at risk for maladjustment. Women and men at risk and not at risk for maladjustment reported similar intentions to comply with treatment (P > 0.05). Cognitive risk factors moderated negative associations found between distress and compliance intentions. Higher anxiety was associated with lower compliance intentions for patients with lower helplessness cognitions (β = -0.45, P = 0.01) and men with higher acceptance cognitions (β = -0.60; P = 0.03), but not for patients with higher helplessness cognitions (β = 0.25, P = 0.13) and men with lower acceptance cognitions (β = 0.38; P = 0.21). Higher depression was associated with lower compliance intentions for patients with higher helplessness cognitions (β = -0.33, P = 0.02), but not for patients with lower helplessness cognitions (β = 0.19, P = 0.30).
Few men participated and thus only medium-to-large effect sizes could be detected for them. Forty-eight percent of participants were recruited online and this could have resulted in higher rates of patients at risk.
The SCREENIVF is not useful to identify patients at risk for non-compliance. However, the clinic staff should be aware that patients who score high on helplessness cognitions and low on acceptance may need additional decisional aid to make autonomous and satisfying decisions about uptake of treatment. The Portuguese version of the SCREENIVF is valid and reliable and can be used with women undergoing any type of fertility treatment.
S.G. received a postdoctoral fellowship from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT-SFRH/BPD/63063/2009). There are no conflicts of interest to declare.