About this Research Topic
Infertility affects a large number of couples, and the use of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) to address infertility problems has dramatically increased worldwide. However, the context of ART poses challenges at different levels to both patients and clinicians. A key challenge for patients is that the treatment success rates remain low--around 30% per cycle. Moreover, the literature indicates that couples report high levels of stress not only due to infertility itself, but also due to the emotional and physical demands of infertility treatments. Under these circumstances, marital and relational bond problems might arise. As a consequence, patients often discontinue treatment prematurely. The ART context also poses challenges for the clinicians, including; the frequent communication of bad news to patients, the triadic nature of the consultation, the management of the patients’ complaints and distress, and the couple’s treatment discontinuation. Given these complexities, monitoring and improving the quality of fertility care is a priority.
Centering the consultation and care process on the patients’ needs and values (i.e., patient-centered care) has been recently recognized by both patients and clinicians as one of the key elements for improving the quality of care. Clinician-patient communication and relationship aspects are crucial for providing quality, patient-centered care. These aspects are also important for clinical decision-making, retention in care and critical conversations with couples. In the ART field, preliminary research has been conducted in defining what ‘patient-centered care’ is from the patients' perspective and identifying the main characteristics of clinician-couples’ verbal communication during clinical consultations. However, important knowledge gaps about the psychological aspects of ART remain in this field, such as the psychological status of couples undergoing ART treatment, adopting both homologous or heterologous gametes, clinician-patient communication, and relational specificities featuring ART care. The ultimate goal of addressing these would be to provide quality patient-centered care.
This Research Topic aims to address the knowledge gap surrounding psychological aspects in ART by focusing on five key areas:
• The psychological wellbeing and suffering of infertile patients who undergo ART treatments, including gender-related considerations. This can include risk factors for psychological and psychosocial suffering, as well as diagnosis, prevention, and treatment.
• Relational bond and adjustment of couples who undergo ART treatment or become parents after a successful ART therapy. This can include risk and protective factors on both the couples’ bond and the parenting functioning.
• Clinician-patient communication and patient-centered aspects of ART visits and infertility care.
• Clinicians' distress, perspectives, and experiences of managing ART patients, with a specific interest in the experience of breaking the bad news to patients in this clinical field.
• Beliefs, attitudes, the psychological and psychosocial implications for gamete donors and recipients.
We are calling for papers examining any of these psychological and relational aspects within the ART setting. Accordingly, we welcome original studies, reviews or theoretical papers on psychological and psychosocial aspects related to patients and couples who undergo ART treatments, clinician-patient communication, ART patient-centered care, and clinicians working in the ART clinical setting.
Keywords: assisted reproductive technology, clinical psychology, parenthood decision-making, physician-patient communication, psychosocial support
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.