COSMIN database

Pregnancy anxiety: A systematic review of current scales

Brunton, R. J., Dryer, R., Saliba, A., and Kohlhoff, J.
BACKGROUND: Depression in pregnancy is a serious health issue; however, anxiety in pregnancy, with a reported higher prevalence, may also be a serious issue. Anxiety symptoms in pregnancy can relate to several anxiety types, such as general anxiety, anxiety disorders, and pregnancy-related anxiety (PrA), anxiety characterised by pregnancy specific fears and worries. Awareness of these distinctions however, is not always widespread. Both general anxiety and PrA are associated with maternal negative outcomes (e.g. increased nausea) however; PrA is more often associated with negative outcomes for the child (e.g. preterm birth). Furthermore, PrA is potentially a risk factor for postnatal depression with assessment of PrA potentially affording important intervention opportunities. Currently several different instruments are used for PrA however their psychometric properties are unclear. To our knowledge a review of current instruments and their psychometric properties is lacking, this paper aims to fill that gap.

METHODS: Studies, which assessed PrA, published between 1983 and 2013 in peer-reviewed journals, were identified.

RESULTS: Sixty studies were identified after applying inclusion/exclusion criteria, and classified as: pregnancy-related anxiety specific, scales for other constructs, sub scales of another instrument and general anxiety scales. Each scale's strengths and limitations were discussed.

LIMITATIONS: Our findings may be limited by restricting our review to peer-reviewed journals. This was done however as we sought to identify scales with good psychometric properties.

CONCLUSIONS: Currently no scales are available for pregnancy-related anxiety with sound theoretical and psychometric properties. Clinically the need for such a scale is highlighted by the potential intervention opportunities this may afford. Future research should be directed towards the development of such a scale.
J Affect Disord
1573-2517 (Electronic)
Publication year:
Symptom status:
Cognitive/mental state
Emotional state
Adults (18-65)
Mental and behavioural disorders and related symptoms
Pregnancy, childbirth and puerperium and related symptom
PRO / non-PRO:
Patient Reported Outcome
Type of measurement instrument:
1 - Questionnaires
BAI - Beck Anxiety Inventory
BSI - Brief Symptom Inventory
BSQ - Baby Schema Questionnaire
Crown-Crips Index
HADS - Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale   
PAS - Pregnancy Anxiety Scale
POMS - Profile of Mood States
PRAQ - Pregnancy-Related Anxiety Questionnaire
PRAQ-R - Pregnancy-Related Anxiety Questionnaire Revised
PRAQ-S - Pregnancy Related Anxiety Questionnaire – Short
PRT - Pregnancy Related Thoughts
PSAS - Pregnancy-Specific Anxiety Scale
PSEI - Prenatal Social Environment Inventory
PSWQ - Penn State Worry Questionnaire (versions: PSWQ-abbreviated)
STAI - State-Trait Anxiety Inventory
STPI - State Trait Personality Inventory