We are thrilled to announce our very own research, which has been published in the prestigious, peer-reviewed research journal Frontiers in Psychology.
Our study shows that people suffer, silently and often alone, for years – even decades – after pregnancy loss. The study also suggests that years of pain could be addressed earlier through improved medical screening.
The paper, Uncovering Prolonged Grief Reactions Subsequent to a Reproductive Loss: Implications for the Primary Care Provider, analyzes 164 stories posted anonymously on Life Perspectives’ healing websites MiscarriageHurts.com and AbortionChangesYou.com over a six-month period between November 2019 and May 2020. The stories were reviewed for details regarding the time span between the pregnancy loss and the composition of the blog post, and then analyzed for subsequent relationship problems and detrimental mental health conditions.
The study found that more than a third (39.6%) of the women reported that at least one year or more had passed since experiencing the pregnancy loss. For those women, the median time span between the loss and composing the anonymous posting was 4 years, with a range as large as 47 years.
“It is heartbreaking to think of these people suffering silent and alone for decades,” said our President and CEO Michaelene Fredenburg. “One person posted that she’d been struggling for 47 years. This is unimaginable. We must address this problem and help these individuals sooner.”
Long-term Impact of Pregnancy Loss
Relationship problems, substance misuse, depression, suicidal ideation, and PTSD were prevalent mental health conditions attributed to the reproductive loss by those who reported longer bereavement times. The percent of reported maladaptive issues was more than double (136.9% vs. 63.6%) for those who reported that a year or more had passed since the loss of the pregnancy.
Grief Screening Tool
“This research illustrates the necessity for healthcare providers to sensitively inquire about a client or patient’s reproductive loss history and screen for maladaptive or prolonged grief reactions,” our CEO added. “To help healthcare providers do this, we’ve created a reproductive grief screening tool.”
The goal of Life Perspectives’ brief grief screening tool is for healthcare providers, as part of the routine healthcare screening process, to bring to light any unresolved issues caused by a prior reproductive loss while mitigating the burden on busy healthcare providers. A reliability and validity study of this screening method is currently underway at a large and prestigious university medical school. Life Perspectives expects to unveil this new grief screening tool to the healthcare community after validation, likely in 2023.
“As this study shows, there is a critical need for healthcare providers to be equipped with a grief screening tool for reproductive loss,” she added. “Just a few questions, asked kindly and at the right time by medical professionals, may save a patient years of pain and suffering.”
Lead researcher and Director of Life Perspectives’ Healthcare Programs, Kathryn Grauerholz, worked with a team of Life Perspectives Certified Instructors, Dr. Shandeigh “Nikki” Berry, Rebecca Capuano, and Jillian Early, to analyze the postings on MiscarriageHurts.com and AbortionChangesYou.com for this study. Life Perspectives’ certified instructors are trained to work with healthcare professionals and other caregivers to help them to provide the gold standard of care for those impacted by pregnancy loss, especially at the moment when the news of the pregnancy loss is delivered.
“It is our hope that this will be the first of many published studies to not only establish the need for such screening, but also to inspire all of us to provide more support for those who are grieving,” our CEO added.
Want more information? Join us for our next “Research Reveals” event in August, when we discuss this research in detail, with the researchers along with some great Q&A. Or email us for details at contact@LifePerspectives.com.