Predictors of emotional distress in pregnant women: the mediating role of relationship intimacy

Eleonora C.V. Costa*, Eva Castanheira, Litícia Moreira, Paulo Correia, Duarte Ribeiro, M. Graça Pereira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Assessment and treatment of emotional distress during pregnancy show that worries during pregnancy and interpersonal relationships with partners are the important factors determining psychological health. Aims: The present study aimed to investigate the impact of worries during pregnancy, relationship intimacy, and marital satisfaction on anxiety, depression, and stress symptoms in pregnant women, as well as to analyse the mediating effect of relationship intimacy between marital satisfaction and emotional distress. Method: During their second and third trimester of pregnancy, 200 Portuguese women were recruited during childbirth preparation consultations and completed the Cambridge Worry Scale (CWS), the Personal Assessment of Intimacy in Relationships Scale (PAIR), the Marital Life Areas Satisfaction Evaluation Scale (MLASES), and the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21). Results: Hierarchical multiple regression analyses showed that being unemployed or on sick leave, being younger, having a history of miscarriage, having more worries during pregnancy, and declaring low-relationship intimacy were the main predictors of emotional distress. Relationship intimacy mediated the relation of marital satisfaction to anxiety and depression symptoms. Conclusions: This study highlights the importance of the worries during pregnancy and relationship intimacy in shaping pregnant women’s emotional distress, and identifies both as targets of intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-160
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2020


  • Emotional distress
  • Marital satisfaction
  • Pregnancy
  • Relationship intimacy
  • Worries during pregnancy


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