Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Development and validation of a pregnancy symptoms inventory

Katie F Foxcroft1, Leonie K Callaway2, Nuala M Byrne3* and Joan Webster4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Medicine, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Brisbane, Australia

2 Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and School of Medicine, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

3 School of Human Movement Studies and Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

4 Centre for Clinical Nursing, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Brisbane, Australia

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2013, 13:3  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-3

Published: 16 January 2013

Abstract

Background

Physical symptoms are common in pregnancy and are predominantly associated with normal physiological changes. These symptoms have a social and economic cost, leading to absenteeism from work and additional medical interventions. There is currently no simple method for identifying common pregnancy related problems in the antenatal period. A validated tool, for use by pregnancy care providers would be useful. The aim of this study was to develop and validate a Pregnancy Symptoms Inventory for use by health professionals.

Methods

A list of symptoms was generated via expert consultation with health professionals. Focus groups were conducted with pregnant women. The inventory was tested for face validity and piloted for readability and comprehension. For test-re-test reliability, the tool was administered to the same women 2 to 3 days apart. Finally, midwives trialled the inventory for 1 month and rated its usefulness on a 10cm visual analogue scale (VAS).

Results

A 41-item Likert inventory assessing how often symptoms occurred and what effect they had, was developed. Individual item test re-test reliability was between .51 to 1, the majority (34 items) scoring ≥0.70. The top four “often” reported symptoms were urinary frequency (52.2%), tiredness (45.5%), poor sleep (27.5%) and back pain (19.5%). Among the women surveyed, 16.2% claimed to sometimes or often be incontinent. Referrals to the incontinence nurse increased > 8 fold during the study period.

Conclusions

The PSI provides a comprehensive inventory of pregnancy related symptoms, with a mechanism for assessing their effect on function. It was robustly developed, with good test re-test reliability, face validity, comprehension and readability. This provides a validated tool for assessing the impact of interventions in pregnancy.

Keywords:
Checklist; Inventory; Pregnancy symptoms; Questionnaire; Survey