Handbook of Health Psychology

By Andrew Baum; Tracey A. Revenson et al. | Go to book overview

first step in understanding the experience of infertile individuals, many infertile individuals never see an infertility specialist. It is now necessary to go further with sampling methods to include the broader array of possible paths. A number of methodologies can be used to address this goal. For example, large national surveys similar to the National Survey of Family Growth could include detailed investigation of when and why individuals sought or did not seek treatment. Another strategy would be to recruit research participants at earlier points in the treatment trajectory, such as from fanrily practitioners or obstetrics and gynecology practices. Additionally, it will be important to conduct prospective studies that follow participants as they consider various options and experience various outcomes. Only in this way can we understand the natural history of the experience of infertility and its treatment, and those factors that predict who will experience significant adjustment problems. Increasing the representativeness of research will not only provide information about currently unstudied groups, it will also broaden understanding of the sociocultural construction of the importance of biological parenthood, the meaning of infertility, and various modes of resolution of it.

Incorporation of Theory and Knowledge From Psychology

As described, most research on psychological aspects of infertility has been atheoretical. The move toward the use of stress and coping models represents an important advance. However, there is a wealth of knowledge and theory within psychology that can be brought to bear on understanding infertility aside from theories of psychological adjustment, For example, as discussed earlier, there has been concern about the psychological functioning of families conceived through ART S. Early research has focused on the question of whether ART families are more poorly adjusted overall than other families. This focus on pathology may have developed because of remnants of the belief that infertile individuals are psychologically deficient in some way. Research should now move beyond comparing these families to others to tackle important challenges these families face. For example, one question that is beginning to be addressed is whether, what, and when to tell ART children about their origin. This question is particularly important with respect to children conceived through donor gametes, because these children not only are conceived using reproductive technology but also do not have genetic ties with one or both of their parents. Regarding the question of whether to tell the child, there is significant research on the effects of family secrets on children that can be usefully applied (e.g., Imber- Black, 1993). Regarding the questions of when and how to tell the child, there is basic research on children's cognitive development that might help in judging what types of information about their origin children can understand at particular ages (e.g., Springer, 1996). There are also many lessons to be learned from the literature on the psychology of adoption (e.g., Brodzinsky & Schechter, 1990). Making use of broad theory and knowledge will prevent research and clinicians working in the area of infertility from having to “reinvent the wheel” each time a new issue must be faced. In addition, there is the potential to advance the scope of the theory itself.

Attention to Applied Problems

In addition to incorporating theory, attention should be directed to addressing applied problems. Practicing psychologists and other mental health professionals working in the field' of reproductive medicine are now faced with many challenges. They conduct pre-ART assessments with couples. These assessments often have multiple purposes, including identification of patients in need of additional support services during the ART process and sometimes to identify patients they think would not be good candidates for treatment for psychological reasons. They conduct assessments of potential oocyte donors to determine if they understand and are psychologically prepared for being a donor. They offer supportive interventions to patients who experience significant distress.

As the knowledge base advances, there is a need for development of research-based assessment, prevention, and intervention protocols for use with infertility patients (Adler, Keyes, & Robertson, 199 1; Pasch & Dunkel-Schetter, 1997). Although there is widespread belief in the importance of psychological interventions, current procedures are based on an extremely limited empirical foundation. For example, research identifying the risk and protective factors present prior to ART that predict which individuals are likely to be in need of additional support would provide a much-needed empirical basis for pre-ART assessments. By identifying the factors associated with adjustment to ART failure, mental health professionals would be able to target psychological services to those patients at highest risk and thus prevent the development of serious negative outcomes.

Attention to the Constantly Changing Face of Infertility Treatment

The future is sure to bring many more technological developments, raising even more complex ethical, legal, and moral dilemmas. New treatments will continue to come into popular use before the psychological community can consider their potential risks to emotional adjustment and family development. Current treatments will become medically obsolete before their impact is fully understood. Because infertility treatment is a constantly moving target, psychologists who work in this area must remain abreast of new developments and employ the tools of the field to investigate and intervene as appropriate to assist patients, the medical community, and the community at large in understanding the psychological impact of these developments.


Abbey, A., Andrews, F. M., & Halman, L. J. (1991). The importance of social relationships for infertile couples' well-being. In A. L.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Handbook of Health Psychology
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 962

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.