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Psychological impact of infectious disease outbreaks on pregnant women: rapid evidence review

Publication date: 

1 Dec 2020


Public Health 189, December 2020, P 26-36


Brooks SK, Weston D, Greenberg N

Publication type: 



abstract Objectives: Infectious disease outbreaks can be distressing for everyone, especially those deemed to be particularly vulnerable such as pregnant women, who have been named a high-risk group in the current COVID-19 pandemic. This paper aimed to summarise existing literature on the psychological impact of infectious disease outbreaks on women who were pregnant at the time of the outbreak. Study design: The design of this study is a rapid review. Methods: Five databases were searched for relevant literature, and main findings were extracted. Results: Thirteen articles were included in the review. The following themes were identified: negative emotional states; living with uncertainty; concerns about infection; concerns about and uptake of prophylaxis or treatment; disrupted routines; non-pharmaceutical protective behaviours; social support; financial and occupational concerns; disrupted expectations of birth, prenatal care and postnatal care and sources of information. Conclusions: Pregnant women have unique needs during infectious disease outbreaks and could benefit from up-to-date, consistent information and guidance; appropriate support and advice from healthcare professionals, particularly with regards to the risks and benefits of prophylaxis and treatment; virtual support groups and designating locations or staff specifically for pregnant women. © 2020 The Royal Society for Public Health. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved