IntroductionTocophobia is defined as a severe fear of pregnancy and childbirth. There is increasing evidence that tocophobia may have short-term and long-term adverse effects on mother and baby. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to determine the global prevalence of tocophobia in pregnancy.
Material and methodsRelevant articles were identified through searching six relevant databases: MEDLINE, CINAHL, Pubmed, PsycINFO, Maternity & Infant Care and Scopus between 1946 and April 2016. We used search terms for tocophobia prevalence in pregnant women that we agreed on with a medical librarian. There were no language restrictions. Two review authors independently assessed data for inclusion, extracted data and assessed quality using a standardized appraisal tool. Meta-analysis was performed to determine the overall pooled-prevalence of tocophobia. Several subgroup and sensitivity analyses were conducted.
ResultsThirty-three studies were included in the systematic review from 18 countries of which data from 29 studies were used in the meta-analysis of 853 988 pregnant women. Definition of tocophobia varied, whereas prevalence rates ranged between 3.7 and 43%. The overall pooled prevalence of tocophobia, using a random-effects model, was 14% (95% CI 0.12-0.16). Significant heterogeneity was observed (I-2 = 99.25%, p = 0.00), which was not explained in subgroup analyses including tocophobia definition used, screening trimester and parity.
ConclusionThe prevalence of tocophobia is estimated at 14% and appears to have increased in recent years (2000 onwards). Considerable heterogeneity (99.25%) was noted that may be attributed to lack of consensus on the definition of tocophobia, so our results should be interpreted with caution.