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Dissertation

Gender Differences In Perceptions of Perinatal Loss, Miscarriage Versus Stillbirth

25 July 2008

Abstract

Men and women's grief reactions differ following perinatal loss (e.g., O'Leary & Thorwick, 2006), and women who experience stillbirth receive more support for their grief than women who experience miscarriage (e.g., Van & Meleis, 2002). Male and female perceptions of miscarriage and stillbirth were examined using the Perinatal Grief Scale-Short Form cPOS) and the Perceptions of Medical Patients Questionnaire (pMPQ). Past support participants provided to perinatal loss patients was also examined qualitatively. Participant ratings reflected higher levels of anticipated grief associated with a hypothetical stillbirth vignette than with a hypothetical miscarriage vignette, and participant ratings reflected higher levels of expected discomfort visiting the woman depicted in a vignette portraying a stillbirth than a woman depicted in a vignette portraying a miscarriage. Female participant ratings reflected higher levels of anticipated grief associated with the hypothetical miscarriage and stillbirth vignettes than male participant ratings of the same vignettes. Qualitative results showed participants provided more emotional support than instrumental support to women they knew following perinatal loss, and female participants were somewhat more likely than male participants to offer support. In conclusion, gender and time of loss appear to influence individuals' perceptions of the significance and severity of perinatal loss and, therefore, likely also influence the support they provide to women who experience perinatal loss. Limits, implications, and future directions were also discussed.


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