Nevin Manimala Statistics

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Perinatal Loss Experienced by the Parental Couple: Protocol for a Mixed Methods Study in Italy

JMIR Res Protoc. 2022 Aug 6. doi: 10.2196/38866. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: At the beginning of 2020, mothers and fathers who experienced perinatal events (from conception to pregnancy and postpartum period) found themselves facing problems relating to the emergency caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and the associated difficulties for healthcare centers in providing care. In the unexpected and negative event of perinatal loss (miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death) more complications occurred. Perinatal loss is a painful and traumatic life experience that causes grief and can cause affective disorders in the parental couple: the baby dies and the couple’s plans for a family are abruptly interrupted. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the limited access to perinatal bereavement care, due to the lockdown measures imposed on medical Healthcare Centers and the social distancing rules to prevent contagion, was an additional risk factor for parental mental health, such as suffering a prolonged and complicated grief.

OBJECTIVE: The main aims of this study are: to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on mothers and fathers who experienced perinatal loss during the pandemic, comparing their perceptions; to evaluate their change over time between first survey administration after bereavement and the second survey, after 6 months; to examine correlations of bereavement with anxiety, depression, couple satisfaction, spirituality and socio-demographic variables; to investigate which psychosocial factors may negatively affect the mourning process and to identify the potential predictors of the development of complicated grief.

METHODS: This longitudinal observational multicenter study is structured according to a mixed methods design, with a quantitative and qualitative section. It will include a sample of parents (mothers and fathers) who experienced perinatal loss during the COVID-19 pandemic from March 2020. There are two phases: a baseline and a follow-up after 6 months.

RESULTS: This protocol was approved by the Ethics Committee of Psychological Research, University of Padova, and by the Institutional Ethics Board of the Spedali Civili of Brescia, Italy. We expect to collect data from 34 or more couples, as determined by our sample size calculation.

CONCLUSIONS: This study will contribute to the understanding of the psychological processes related to perinatal loss and bereavement care during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will provide information useful to prevent the risk of complicated grief and psychopathologies among bereaved parents and to promote perinatal mental health.

PMID:36044641 | DOI:10.2196/38866

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