Psychosocial aspects and functional analysis of symptom-giving pelvic girdle relaxation in Icelandic women



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This study looked at psychosocial aspects of Symptom-giving Pelvic Girdle Relaxation (Sg PGR), a painful pregnancy related condition, in Icelandic women. The study combined quantitative and qualitative methods, with a 52.7% response rate for the mail survey and 19% for the interviews. A measure of Sg PGR was developed and 42% met the criteria for a diagnosis. In a comparison of women with and without Sg PGR, the former were found to have higher scores on Affective Inhibition but lower on Somatization and Denial, as measured by The Illness Behavior Questionnaire (Pilowsky & Spence, 1994). They were less satisfied with their Social Support, as measured by the Social Support Inventory (Rodriguez, Bohlin & Lindmark, 2001) and endorsed a greater number of symptoms for which they have sought treatment or been treated, as measured by the Questionnaire of Unrelated Somatic and Psychologic Symptoms (Reiter, Shakerin, Gambone & Milburn, 1991). The Family Dynamics Questionnaire was developed by the researcher of the current study, based on Engel’s (1959/1994) & Adler, Zlot, Hürny & Minder (1989) ideas on the pain prone patient. It was hypothesized that women with Sg PGR had a greater incidence of abuse in their past, and a more disruptive family life. Both hypotheses were supported, in that the women had a greater history of abuse and were more likely to have parents which were abusive toward each other and where one was domineering and the other submissive. There was no difference between the two groups in satisfaction with the relationship with their partner, as measured by the Relationship Assessment Scale (Hendrick, 1988). Functional Analysis indicated that Sg PGR served the function of getting the women to relax and ask for help. There was secondary gain involved in the form of paid sick-leave and avoidance of unpleasant activities. The secondary gain was not found to cause Sg PGR. Social Support, Affective Inhibition, Somatization and several variables from the Family Dynamics Questionnaire explained 70.2% of Sg PGR. Since very few studies have been able to shed light on Sg PGR, these results are of great importance. Their implications along with the study’s limitations and suggestions for future studies are discussed.