Like other medical conditions, infertility is often unforeseen and difficult to resolve. Though both genders are impacted, women exhibit the most psychological distress. Prevalence estimates range from 27%-37% for depressive disorders and 15%-29% for anxiety disorders in infertile women. Among other coping strategies, some women use their religious or spiritual beliefs to cope with the crisis of infertility. While projects investigating the role of spirituality in mental health are growing in momentum, none has combined psychological intervention with infertile women's religious or spiritual beliefs. Incorporating these beliefs in treatment can enrich treatment and bolster positive treatment outcomes. OBJECTIVES: To fill the gap in religiously- or spiritually-relevant therapy for infertile women, this project aims to assess the efficacy of a brief group intervention in reducing psychological distress.
AIMS : (1) We will develop a spiritually-integrated therapy intervention for infertile women. (2) We will recruit 40 infertile women from a university-affiliated infertility an gynecology clinics to implement the intervention. (3) We will evaluate the efficacy of the intervention for psychologically and spiritually-based outcomes. METHODS: In Phase I, the intervention will be finalized after consultation from professionals in the fields of psychotherapy theology, and infertility, as well as women who have been diagnosed with infertility. In Phase II, 40 patients recruited from gynecology and infertility clinics will be randomly assigned to either the spiritual intervention group or CBT-only group. Participants in both groups will participate in 6-week, manualized interventions, facilitated by the Principal Investigator. Anxiety, depression, fertility- related stress, religious coping, and spiritual transformation will be assessed at baseline, immediately post-intervention, and at 3 months post-intervention to note between-group and within-group differences. SIGNIFICANCE: Psychological distress can affect global functioning and further complicate medical infertility treatment. Moreover, few infertile women seek therapy following an infertility diagnosis. Since women do report independently using religious or spiritual beliefs to cope with infertility, the development of a treatment modality tht acknowledges and incorporates those beliefs seems appropriate. This innovative study would be the first such investigation of an intervention designed to incorporate elements of client religion/spirituality in psychotherapeutic treatment for infertile women. If proven efficacious, ths brief intervention could be readily offered in medical settings, helping to alleviate psychological burden in infertile women.

Public Health Relevance

Infertility can cause undue psychological burden on the 10-15% of couples diagnosed with this difficult-to-treat medical condition. Though support group and individual therapy options abound, there is less opportunity to participate in brief, group-based therapy that incorporates clients'religious or spiritual beliefs;thus, this project is an investigation of how a brief spiritual- integrated psychological intervention may alleviate emotional distress in this population.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Dissertation Award (R36)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1-ERB-M (04))
Program Officer
Hill, Lauren D
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Alabama Birmingham
Anatomy/Cell Biology
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code