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The association of cognitive representations with psychological adjustment in experience of infertility and fertility treatment: A systematic review

Meropi Moutzouri, Antigoni Sarantaki,
Published: 3 August 2021

Abstract: The aim of this systematic review was to examine studies describing the association of cognitive representations with psychological adjustment or maladjustment during the experience of infertility and its treatment in light of the Common-Sense Model. According to this theoretical model cognitive perceptions about an illness can be associated with emotional adaptation. A systematic search of four electronic databases (PubMed, APA PsycINFO, SCOPUS, ScienceDirect) was performed. This review considered only quantitative, primary studies in the English language without geographical limitations, published during the period 1996–2020 and relevant to the objective. The population of interest was infertile individuals who are having or not having infertility treatment. Only studies that examined the association between independent variables, such as perceived causes, timeline, controllability, consequences, symptoms, illness coherence and emotional representations, with psychological variables, such as anxiety, worry, distress, depression and well-being, were included. Two authors performed an independent extraction of articles using predefined data fields. Relevant articles were critically appraised and a narrative synthesis was conducted. Seven cross-sectional studies met the inclusion and methodological criteria and were included in the review. The review results revealed that all components of cognitive representations of infertility and its treatment may correlate with psychological adaptation of people who deal with a fertility problem, at intrapersonal and interpersonal level. This systematic review suggested that the Common-Sense Model is an appropriate theoretical model to be applied in the experience of infertility and health professionals can make interventions based on modifying cognitive perceptions of a fertility problem that may increase levels of psychological well-being and decrease levels of distress.
Keywords: infertility / IVF / cognitive representation / anxiety / depression / well-being

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