The PIEPE study: looking at the psychological effects of miscarriage

Tommy’s researchers want to find out why some women suffer more severe mental health problems following miscarriage, and the best way to help them.
  • Author's list

    Tom Bourne, Helen Williams, Jessica Farren

Miscarriages are traumatic; there is no way around it. Sometimes though, grief can turn into something very severe. Occasionally, miscarriage can lead to problems with mental health such as depression, anxiety, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

We want to understand better why some women are affected by these severe reactions, while others aren’t. More, we want to know how to help them.

The PIEPE (Psychological Impact of Early Pregnancy Events) study looks at how common, and how severe, these different conditions are. We followed a number of couples over 9 months, using an online email survey to find out who is most at risk of long-term mental health problems. A precursor to this research, where women completed questionnaires 1 and 3 months after losing a baby, found that around a third of women showed signs of PTSD. Many women who took part struggled with emotional distress and upsetting, intrusive thoughts reminding them of their loss.

We are also testing a certain type of therapy – Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT, which tries to remove the power of distressing thoughts – to see if it can help women diagnosed with PTSD.

If you have experienced a miscarriage and need to talk to someone, please call our free helpline on 0800 0147 800 between 9-5, Monday to Friday, or find more information here.  

Thanks for your interest in our research

Tommy's funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for pregnancy complications and loss. Maternal and fetal research is underfunded and we need your support to continue. There are many small and large ways you can support us, find out more here.