University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Treatment of Pregnant Women With Fear of Childbirth Using EMDR Therapy: Results of a Multi-Center Randomized Controlled Trial

Baas, M. A. M., van Pampus, M. G., Stramrood, C. A. I., Dijksman, L. M., Vanhommerig, J. W. and de Jongh, Ad (2022) Treatment of Pregnant Women With Fear of Childbirth Using EMDR Therapy: Results of a Multi-Center Randomized Controlled Trial. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 12 (798249). ISSN Online: 1664-0640

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Fear of childbirth (FoC) occurs in 7. 5% of pregnant women and has been associated with adverse feto-maternal outcomes. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has proven to be effective in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety; however, its effectiveness regarding FoC has not yet been established. The aim was to determine the safety and effectiveness of EMDR therapy for pregnant women with FoC. This single-blind RCT (the OptiMUM-study,, NTR5122) was conducted in the Netherlands. FoC was defined as a score ≥85 on the Wijma Delivery Expectations Questionnaire (WDEQ-A). Pregnant women with FoC and a gestational age between 8 and 20 weeks were randomly assigned to EMDR therapy or care-as-usual (CAU). The severity of FoC was assessed using the WDEQ-A. Safety was indexed as worsening of FoC symptoms, dropout, serious adverse events, or increased suicide risk. We used linear mixed model analyses to compare groups. A total of 141 women were randomized (EMDR n = 70; CAU n = 71). No differences between groups were found regarding safety. Both groups showed a very large (EMDR d = 1.36) or large (CAU d = 0.89) reduction of FoC symptoms with a mean decrease of 25.6 (EMDR) and 17.4 (CAU) points in WDEQ-A sum score. No significant difference between both groups was found (p = 0.83). At posttreatment, 72.4% (EMDR) vs. 59.6% (CAU) no longer met the criteria for FoC. In conclusion, the results are supportive of EMDR therapy as a safe and effective treatment of FoC during pregnancy, albeit without significant beneficial effects of EMDR therapy over and above those of CAU. Therefore, the current study results do not justify implementation of EMDR therapy as an additional treatment in this particular setting.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

This work was supported by grants from the Stichting EMDR
Nederland (Dutch EMDR Association), Fonds Gezond Geboren,
Stichting Teaching Hospital OLVG, and Stichting Wetenschap
OLVG, all awarded to the principal investigator MvP.

© 2022 Baas, van Pampus, Stramrood, Dijksman, Vanhommerig and de Jongh. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: fear of childbirth, tocophobia, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, pregnancy, childbirth, treatment, EMDR
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > School of Psychology
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Depositing User: Miranda Jones
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2022 10:14
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2022 10:14

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