Understanding Perinatal Anxiety and Depression during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Associations with Stress and Coping: A Scoping Review Restricted; Files Only

Henry, Joi (Summer 2022)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/g732db39w?locale=en


Objective: The objective of this scoping review is to summarize existing literature pertaining to pregnant US individuals’ psychological experiences with stress and coping during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Introduction: Emerging evidence demonstrates that the COVID-19 pandemic had a particular impact on the mental health of vulnerable populations such as pregnant people. Increases in the prevalence of mental distress are of particular concern for pregnant women as pregnancy and the postpartum period are vulnerable periods that have been associated with increased risk for depression, anxiety, and trauma-related symptoms and can lead to serious outcomes that impact mother and child. This review explores the impact of COVID-19 on the experiences of pregnant and postpartum women during the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on their mental health and wellbeing with specific attention to what stressors were experienced and coping strategies were utilized.

Methods: This scoping review considered articles dealing with anxiety and depression amongst perinatal women during the COVID-19 pandemic and how their experiences with stress and coping. Studies presenting prevalence of depressive and anxiety symptoms amongst perinatal women during COVID and instances of stress, coping strategies, and resilience strategies were also included. The review considered peer-reviewed qualitative or mixed methods studies published in English between January 2020 through January 2022. The search was conducted using 13 electronic databases. Data extraction was performed by two independent reviewers using COVIDENCE. 

Results: The review identified 5 eligible studies for inclusion. Two studies on perinatal women with a history of clinically elevated depression levels or of psychiatric disorders during the pandemic. One study on the psychological experience of obstetric patients after the introduction of SARS-CoV-2 universal testing. Another study on the mental health and wellbeing of perinatal women and their sources of resilience and one study on the psychological stress and coping during pregnancy in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Anxiety and depression were commonly related to exposure risk, lacking support networks, mitigation restrictions, and changes in financial situations but were able to utilize numerous resilience. Major themes around coping were grounded in engagement with nature, prioritization of down-time, tempering access to media, and connecting with community. None of the studies explicitly consider the nuanced impact of systematic factors on minority and marginalized groups. 

Conclusions: This scoping review highlights that perinatal women experienced elevated anxiety and depression during their COVID-19 experiences. Understanding how perinatal women are impacted during the pandemic, such as stressors and coping strategies, is crucial for providers and health officials to consider when providing care, recommending resource avenues, and developing support interventions for perinatal women. Continued research is necessary to understand the long-term impact of the pandemic on this vulnerable population through continued exploration.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1 

Methods 5 

Eligibility Criteria 5

Source Search Strategy 7 

Data Extraction Process 8

Results 9 

Selection of Sources of Evidence 9

Characteristics of Included Publications 10

Descriptions of Individual Publications 10

Synthesis of Results 15

Discussion 19

Limitations 21 

Public Health Implications 22

Conclusion 23

References 24 

Appendices 28 

Appendix I. Review Protocol 28

Appendix II. PRISMA-ScR Checklist 31

Appendix III. Search Strategy 33

Appendix IV. PRISMA Flow Chart of Inclusion 34

Appendix V. Data Extraction and Characteristics of Included Studies 35

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