OBSTETRICIAN-GYNECOLOGISTS' SCREENING PATTERNS FOR ANXIETY DURING PREGNANCY


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Abstract

As obstetrician-gynecologists (ob-gyns) take on a greater role in women's healthcare, it is important that they are aware of the high prevalence of anxiety disorders in their patient population. Anxiety disorders present during pregnancy can have detrimental effects on both mother and child. In this study, we queried 1,193 ob-gyns on their screening rates, practice patterns, training, and knowledge as they relate to anxiety disorders during pregnancy. We achieved a 44% response rate (n = 397) after three mailings. Physicians reported a moderate interest in screening for and diagnosing anxiety, but less interest in treatment. Only 20% of respondents (n = 79) screen for anxiety during pregnancy, and they typically refer anxiety-disordered patients to mental health professionals. Ob-gyns with comprehensive or adequate training were significantly more likely to screen than those who stated that their training was inadequate. Having a friend who has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder also significantly increased both the likelihood that these physicians would screen and the reported level of interest in screening of anxiety disorders during pregnancy. At present, the majority of ob-gyns feel that their training in this area was barely adequate to inadequate. Specifically, generalized anxiety disorder may be the least understood. Increased training in this area would allow ob-gyns to overcome what they list as the primary barrier to anxiety screening during pregnancy—that is, inadequate training about anxiety disorders.

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