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Characteristics of the individual and the transition : mediating factors in the response to infertility Koropatnick, Stephanie J.


Using Schlossberg's (1981) model of adjustment to transitions in adulthood as a framework, an exploratory study was conducted of the factors mediating responses to involuntary primary infertility. Forty-three women and twenty-eight men who were seeking medical attention for infertility concerns at an Alberta Infertility clinic were recruited to complete five standardized self-report instruments and one researcher-designed survey measuring fourteen predictor variables and ten outcome variables. Predictor variables included four Characteristics of the Transition, including: diagnosis, duration, perceived outcome and perceived chances of success, as well as ten Characteristics of the Individual, including: age, sex, race, religion, SES, sex-role identity, self-esteem, locus of control, general health and previous experience with a similar transition. Outcome variables included nine symptoms of distress, including somatization, obsessive compulsiveness, interpersonal sensitivity, depression, anxiety, hostility, phobic anxiety, paranoidideation and psychoticism. Canonical correlational analyses indicated two significant links between characteristics of the individual and responses to infertility. The first link demonstrated that men and women with high self-esteem, high SES, higher age and an internal locus of control tended to respond to infertility with fewer symptoms of distress overall, scoring particularly low on measures of anger and hostility. The second link described a group of individuals who were among the oldest members of the sample and who reported low self-esteem and an undifferentiated sex-role identity. These men and women appeared to also report heightened feelings of distress overall, with particularly high levels of anxiety and obsessive compulsiveness. From the results, two groups who may be at risk of experiencing difficulties with infertility were identified. They include: Men and women who are recently infertile and have yet to receive a definitive diagnosis and older men and women who demonstrate low self-esteem and a poorly defined self-image. The counselling needs of each group were briefly discussed and recommendations made for possible directions of future research.

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