Re-examining pregnancy-related anxiety: A replication study

Robyn Brunton, Rachel Dryer, Anthony Saliba, Jane Kohlhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Recognition of pregnancy-related anxiety as a distinct anxiety is supported by evidence differentiating it from general anxiety and depression. Adverse associations with pregnancy-related anxiety further support this distinction. An influential study by Huizink et al. (2004), demonstrated that anxiety and depression contribute little to the variance of pregnancy-related anxiety, yet this study has not been replicated. Further, addressing limitations of the original study will provide further clarity to the findings. Methods: Participants (N = 1209), were recruited online and completed three scales: pregnancy-related anxiety, general anxiety and depression. Multiple regression assessed the unique contribution of general anxiety and depression (predictors) to pregnancy-related anxiety scores (criterion) for each trimester. Results: Across pregnancy, general anxiety and depression explained only 2–23% of the variance in the pregnancy-related anxiety scores. Anxiety and depression showed small unique contributions for some trimesters and specific areas of concern, ranging from 2 to 11%. Comparisons to the original Huizink study showed most results were comparable. Conclusions: The methodology and more detailed analyses employed addressed noted limitations of the Huizink study. Findings that the contribution of general anxiety and depression to the variance in pregnancy-related anxiety scores was low, supports previous conclusions that pregnancy-related anxiety is a discrete anxiety type. Recognition of this unique anxiety (associated with many deleterious outcomes) may provide opportunity for prenatal screening/early intervention, potentially resulting in improved pregnancy outcomes. Limitations include no exclusion of women deemed as high-risk pregnancy and the pregnancy-related anxiety scale limited in its ability to fully assess this anxiety type.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e131-e137
Number of pages7
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number1
Early online date07 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


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