Objective: To evaluate the effect of haptotherapy on severe fear of childbirth in pregnant women. Design: Randomized controlled trial. Setting: Community midwifery practices and a teaching hospital in the Netherlands. Population or Sample: Primi- and multigravida, suffering from severe fear of childbirth (N = 134). Methods: Haptotherapy, psycho-education via Internet and care as usual were randomly assigned at 20-24 weeks of gestation and the effects were compared at 36 weeks of gestation and 6 weeks and 6 months postpartum. Repeated measurements ANOVA were carried out on the basis of intention to treat. Since there were crossovers from psycho-education via Internet and care as usual to haptotherapy, the analysis was repeated according to the as treated principle. Main Outcome Measures: Fear of childbirth score at the Wijma Delivery Expectancy/Experience Questionnaire. Results: In the intention to treat analysis, only the haptotherapy group showed a significant decrease of fear of childbirth, F(2,99) = 3.321, p = .040. In the as treated analysis, the haptotherapy group showed a greater reduction in fear of childbirth than the other two groups, F(3,83) = 6.717, p < .001.
Conclusion: Haptotherapy appears to be more effective in reducing fear of childbirth than psycho-education via Internet and care as usual.
Keywords: Pregnant women, fear of childbirth, haptotherapy, treatment, birth.
Clinical trial registration: Dutch Trial Register, NTR3339.
Gert A. Klabbers, Klaas Wijma, K. Marieke Paarlberg, Wilco H.M. Emons and Ad J.J.M. Vingerhoets
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