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Feasibility and acceptability of psychosocial care for unsuccessful fertility treatment

Sousa‐Leite, Mariana ORCID:, Fernandes, Mónica, Reis, Salomé, Costa, Raquel, Figueiredo, Bárbara and Gameiro, Sofia ORCID: 2022. Feasibility and acceptability of psychosocial care for unsuccessful fertility treatment. Health Expectations 25 (6) , pp. 2902-2913. 10.1111/hex.13598

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Introduction: Many people undergo fertility treatment to have biological children, but around four in ten patients complete all treatment cycles without having the children they desire. This triggers intense grief from which patients report taking on average 2 years to recover. Fertility guidelines and regulators stress the need to support patients through this process, but there is a scarcity of evaluated interventions to this end and evidence about when and how to offer care is lacking. This study explored patients' and healthcare professionals' (HCPs) experiences of and views about provision of psychosocial care (to patients facing unsuccessful fertility treatment, i.e., care provided by a mental health professional to address the emotional, cognitive, behavioural, relational and social needs that patients have at this stage of treatment). Methods: Five qualitative online focus groups were conducted with Portuguese participants: three with patients waiting to initiate or undergoing their last cycle of in vitro fertilization/intracytoplasmic sperm injection or having completed it within the last 2 months without achieving a pregnancy and two with HCPs working at fertility clinics. Focus groups were recorded and transcribed verbatim, and data were analysed with Framework Analysis. Results: Thirteen patients and nine HCPs participated. Analysis resulted in 1293 codes, systematically organized into 13 categories, 4 themes and 1 metatheme. The latter showed high consensus about the need for psychosocial care for unsuccessful treatment, but perceived challenges in its implementation. Themes reflected (1) consensual demand for psychosocial care at all stages of treatment but particularly at the end, (2) high perceived acceptability of integrating preventive care initiated during treatment with early psychosocial care only for those patients who experience unsuccessful treatment, (3) perceived challenges of implementing psychosocial care for unsuccessful treatment at clinics and (4) suggestions to promote its acceptability and feasibility. Conclusion: Patients and HCPs perceive that clinics should improve care provision across the whole treatment pathway and in particular for unsuccessful fertility treatment. Suggestions were made to inform future research focusing on the development and evaluation of psychosocial interventions to this end. Patient or Public Contribution: Patients and HCPs participated in the focus groups. Two HCPs also revised the manuscript.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:
Publisher: Wiley Open Access
ISSN: 1369-6513
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 22 September 2022
Date of Acceptance: 22 August 2022
Last Modified: 11 May 2023 21:47

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