Seminar: "Illness perceptions, coping, psychological distress and happiness among Indian women with high risk pregnancies: A mixed method study"

Seminar: "Illness perceptions, coping, psychological distress and happiness among Indian women with high risk pregnancies: A mixed method study"

Authors: Mahati Chittem1, Shravannthi Maya1, Daniel Costa2, Kameswari S3

1. Department of Liberal Arts, Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India (

2. School of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

3. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Fernandez Hospitals, Hyderabad, India


     A diagnosis of a high risk pregnancy (i.e., gestational diabetes or preeclampsia) can impact negatively on a woman’s psychological well-being and life experiences. Exploring a pregnant woman’s experiences of high risk pregnancy offers the opportunity to understand and address their supportive care needs.  Using mixed methods, this study aimed to, first, examine illness perceptions, coping, psychological distress and happiness among women with a high risk pregnancy versus women with a healthy pregnancy. Building on these findings a qualitative study was conducted which sought to explore the experiences of having a high risk pregnancy.

For the quantitative study, pregnant women (healthy = 49; high risk = 41) were recruited from a hospital specialized in child and maternal health in Hyderabad, India. Scores on the Brief illness perception questionnaire (BIPQ), Brief COPE, Hospital anxiety/ depression scale (HADS), and Oxford happiness questionnaire (OHQ) were recorded. Multiple linear regressions were used to analyse the data. Following this, a qualitative study was conducted with twenty-six women diagnosed with a high risk pregnancy. Using semi-structured, tape-recorded interviews, topics on experiences of having a high risk pregnancy, experiences of adhering to the doctor’s prescribed medical regimen, and role of and experiences with family and spouse during the pregnancy journey were explored in-depth. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to analyse the transcribed interviews.

Major findings of the quantitative study included that older age and having one or more children played a role in depression, happiness and coping methods among pregnant women, having positive illness perceptions was associated with lower use of maladaptive coping and women with high risk pregnancy were less likely to use maladaptive coping and had positive illness perceptions which helped reduce their levels of anxiety as compared to their healthy counterparts. Main themes from the qualitative study included, (i) collective experiences of a high risk pregnancy, (ii) rewards of a successful pregnancy outweighs the risks involved, and (iii) barriers and benefits of receiving social support.

This talk will conclude with discussing the above findings and their implications, with particular emphasis on how medical practice needs tobe sensitive to and inclusive of the collective experience of pregnancy, especially in the case of one which is diagnosed as high risk.

Brief bio:

   Prof. Mahati Chittem, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Health and Medical Psychology in the Department of Liberal Arts at the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad (IITH), Hyderabad, India. Her main research interests are in chronic disease management (specialized in psycho-oncology and diabetes) and health behaviours (primarily diet, exercise and safe sex). Within the area of chronic diseases, shefocusses on topics such ascommunication, adherence, doctor-patient-family relationships, and end-of-life decision-making. She has published research articles and book chapters, received research grants, supervises MPhil and PhD scholars, is a reviewer for national and international journals, and is an expert advisor to many start-ups in supportive healthcare in India. Dr. Chittem has successfully conducted international workshops on topics pertaining to psycho-oncology.She is the co-founder and chair of the Hyderabad Psycho-oncology Working Group (HPWG), is an active member of the International Psycho-oncology Society (IPOS), and is a member of the Special Interest Group of Early Career Psycho-oncology Professionals within IPOS. Dr. Chittem received the Asia-Pacific Psycho-oncology Network’s (APPON) Young Investigator Award (2014) for her contributions to psycho-oncology in India. In 2016, she received the Health and Behavior International Collaborative Award sponsored by the Society for Health Psychology (American Psychology Association Division 38).   

Event Date: 
Friday, 17 August 2018 - 3:00pm
Seminar Hall, Department of HSS
IIT Bombay, Powai, Mumbai