The effects of psychosocial interventions on the mental health, pregnancy rates, and marital function of infertile couples undergoing in vitro fertilization: a systematic review

  • Liying Ying
  • Lai Har Wu
  • Alice Yuen Loke
Assisted Reproduction Technologies



The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of psychosocial interventions on the mental health, pregnancy rates, and marital function of infertile couples undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF), as determined through RCT studies.


Using the electronic databases PubMed, EMBase, Cochrane Library, CINAHL, PsycInfo, and CAJ, a systematic literature search was conducted in July 2015. MeSH terms, key words, and free words such as “infertility,” “fertilization in vitro,” “psychotherapy,” “intervention,” “anxiety,” “depression,” and “marital satisfaction” were used to identify all potential studies. The quality of the studies that were included was assessed using the risk of bias assessment tool developed by the Cochrane Back Review Group. Descriptive analysis was adopted to synthesize the results.


A total of 20 randomized controlled trials were included in this review. There were reports of positive effects on the anxiety levels, pregnancy rates, or marital function of infertile couples in six studies that adopted different psychosocial approaches, including mind body intervention (Eastern body-mind-spirit, Integrative body-mind-spirit, and Mind/body intervention), cognitive behavioral therapy, group psychotherapy, and harp therapy. However, there were methodological or practical issues related to measurement points and attrition rates in these studies. None of these interventions were found to be efficacious in relieving the depression or stress of individuals or couples undergoing IVF treatment. None of the included studies tackled or measured the mental health status of the couples during the most stressful time of waiting for the pregnancy results of their treatment.


A complex intervention, based on sound evidence, should be developed targeting both females and males of infertile couples undergoing IVF treatment, particularly during the stressful period of waiting for the results of the pregnancy test result and after failed cycles.


Infertile couples In vitro fertilization Mental health Pregnancy rate Psychosocial intervention Systematic review 


Compliance with ethical standard

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Table S1 (DOCX 31 kb)
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Table S2 (DOCX 20 kb)
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Table S3 (DOC 64 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of NursingThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHong KongChina
  2. 2.School of NursingZhejiang Chinese Medical UniversityHangzhouChina

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