Anxiety, depression, somatization and psychological distress before and 2-6 years after a late termination of pregnancy due to fetal anomalies

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review



BACKGROUND: For many women, a late termination of pregnancy (TOP) can be an enormous psychological burden. Few studies have investigated the long-term psychological impact of late TOP.

METHODS: N = 90 women answered a questionnaire containing questions about anxiety, depression and somatization (Brief-Symptom Inventory, BSI-18) shortly before (T1) and 2-6 years after (T4) their late termination of pregnancy.

RESULTS: Prior to the late TOP, 57.8% of participants showed above-average levels of overall psychological distress (66.7% anxiety, 51.1% depression, 37.8% somatization). This number decreased significantly over time for all scales of the BSI-18. 2-6 years later, only 10.0% of women still reported above-average levels (17.8% anxiety, 11.1% depression, 10.0% somatization).

CONCLUSIONS: Our results support those of previous research showing that late TOP has a substantial psychological impact on those experiencing it in the short-term. In the long-term, most women return to normal levels of psychological distress, although some still show elevated levels. Limitations of the study include monocentric data collection, drop-out between T1 and T4, and the relatively wide range of two to six years after TOP. Further research should be conducted in order to identify factors that impact the psychological processing of the experience.


Original languageEnglish
Article number255
Number of pages5
JournalBMC women's health
Volume24 (2024)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2024

External IDs

Scopus 85191151559
ORCID /0000-0002-1491-9195/work/158767981



  • Humans, Female, Pregnancy, Adult, Anxiety/psychology, Depression/psychology, Somatoform Disorders/psychology, Abortion, Induced/psychology, Psychological Distress, Surveys and Questionnaires, Stress, Psychological/psychology, Congenital Abnormalities/psychology

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