Every year around the globe there are more than two million stillbirths, yet stillbirth is generally treated as a non-event, considered less impactful than the death of a live-born child. In up to 60 percent of third-trimester stillbirths, the causes of death were attributed to maternal conditions or were "undetermined." As a result, mothers blame themselves or specific others. This analysis set out to determine how the attitudes of 2,232 bereaved mothers predict their mental health outcomes measuring depressive and anxious symptoms with the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL). Of the women sampled, 24.6% reported blaming themselves, and 42.3% reported elevated HSCL mean scores. Self-blame in particular is correlated with symptoms of anxiety and depression. Multivariate analyses predicting elevated HSCL scores demonstrated the importance of time after death, level of education, and reported abuse during pregnancy in the models, as did self-blame and blaming others. Controlling for other demographic and pregnancy-related variables, self-blame was the strongest predictor of poor mental health outcomes. Implications for mental health counselors are discussed.
Condemning Self, Condemning Other: Blame and Mental Health in Women Suffering Stillbirth
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Joanne Cacciatore, J. Frøen, Michael Killian; Condemning Self, Condemning Other: Blame and Mental Health in Women Suffering Stillbirth. Journal of Mental Health Counseling 1 October 2013; 35 (4): 342–359. doi: https://doi.org/10.17744/mehc.35.4.15427g822442h11m
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