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Quality of Life and Emotional Distress among HIV-Positive Women during Transition to Motherhood

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 January 2013

Marco Pereira*
Universidade de Coimbra (Portugal)
Maria Cristina Canavarro
Universidade de Coimbra (Portugal)
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Marco Pereira. Instituto de Psicologia Cognitiva, Desenvolvimento Vocacional e Social. Faculdade de Psicologia e Ciências da Educação da Universidade de Coimbra. Rua do Colégio Novo, Apartado 6153, 3001-802 Coimbra (Portugal). E-mail:


The purpose of this preliminary study was to describe the quality of life (QOL) and emotional distress during pregnancy and early postpartum, and to examine the ability of psychopathological symptoms to predict QOL at early postpartum.Asample of 75 pregnant women (31 HIV-positive and 44 HIV-negative) was assessed during the second trimester of pregnancy and two to four days postpartum. QOL was assessed with the WHOQOL-Bref. The emotional distress was assessed with the Brief Symptom Inventory, and with the Emotional Assessment Scale. Seropositive women reported increased negative emotional reactivity and lower scores in social relationships and overall QOL during pregnancy than HIV-negative women. Both HIV-positive and HIV-negative women reported better QOL after the birth of their child, when compared with the pregnancy period. Among HIV-positive women, lower anxiety and depressive symptoms during pregnancy were, respectively, significant predictors of better psychological QOL and overall QOL at early postpartum. Less intense somatic symptoms predicted better physical QOL. Longitudinal assessment of QOL and emotional status may provide potentially useful information for tailoring psychological interventions in the maternity care of HIV-infected women, during their transition to motherhood.

El objetivo de este estudio preliminar fue describir la calidad de vida (CdV) y la angustia emocional durante el embarazo y el postparto, y examinar la capacidad de los síntomas psicopatológicos para predecir la CdV después del parto. Una muestra de 75 mujeres embarazadas (31 VIH-positivas y 44 VIH-negativas) fue evaluada en el segundo trimestre del embarazo y de dos a cuatro días después del parto. La CdV fue evaluada con el WHOQOL-Bref. La angustia emocional se evaluó con el Brief Symptom Inventory y con la Escala de Evaluación Emocional. Durante el embarazo, las mujeres seropositivas reportaron una reactividad emocional negativa aumentada y puntuaciones más bajas en las relaciones sociales y CdV general que las mujeres VIH-negativas. Las mujeres VIH-positivas e VIH-negativas reportaron mejor CdV posparto, en comparación con el período de embarazo. Entre las mujeres VIH-positivas, menor ansiedad y síntomas depresivos durante el embarazo fueron, respectivamente, predictores significativos de la mejor CdV psicológica y CdV general en el posparto. Síntomas somáticos menos intensos predijeron mejor la CdV física. La evaluación longitudinal de la CdV y estado emocional puede proporcionar información potencialmente útil para adaptar las intervenciones psicológicas en el cuidado de las mujeres seropositivas, durante su transición a la maternidad.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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