Pursuing a child : an interactive qualitative analysis of the infertility treatment experience
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The purpose of this exploratory study is to examine and compare the infertility experience of individuals who have difficulty bearing children and/or who undergo fertility treatments. Each year, millions of individuals discover they are unable to bear children. Nearly 15% of the US population is diagnosed with infertility (NIH, 2014). Considered as a serious and unexpected condition, infertility has been linked to psychological and physiological distress, including health complaints, depression, anxiety, and complicated bereavement (Berghuis and Stanton, 2002; van den Akker, 2005). However, little is known about how people experience infertility and infertility treatments. This study aims at exploring how infertile individuals process their medical condition and how they cope with the stress of undergoing treatments. To achieve this goal, this study seeks to identify elements that make up the infertility treatment experience. This study uses the Interactive Qualitative Analysis (IQA) grounded framework (Northcutt & McCoy, 2004) to reconcile quantitative and qualitative data collection. Flyers in medical facilities and infertility support groups in Central Texas were used to recruit fifty individuals. Initially, participants attended focus groups to identify common elements surrounding the infertility experience. Using these elements, the research team developed surveys and a semistructured interview. The interviews provided participants’ rich stories while the surveys measured satisfaction of experiences. Analysis of the infertility treatment experience elements, and their interactions, show that the cost of treatments and running out of time correlate with a more negative experience. In addition, knowledge of the topic and receiving support from individuals who are also experiencing infertility are more positively rated. The findings of this study are useful for identifying problematic aspects surrounding this experience, and for providing an opportunity to develop tools aimed at making the process of undergoing treatments easier.