Poster Session
Issue Date: August 2016
Published Online: August 01, 2016
Updated: January 01, 2021
The Effects of Guided Imagery on Stress in Pregnant Adolescents
Author Affiliations
  • University of Wisconsin
  • University of Wisconsin–Madison
Article Information
Complementary/Alternative Approaches / Prevention and Intervention
Poster Session   |   August 01, 2016
The Effects of Guided Imagery on Stress in Pregnant Adolescents
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011515257.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011515257.

Date Presented 4/8/2016

This study describes the results of guided imagery with pregnant adolescents to reduce psychological stress. The intervention significantly reduced the adolescents’ stress and provided preliminary evidence for school-based stress reduction programs facilitated by occupational therapists.

Primary Author and Speaker: Theresa Flynn

Additional Author and Speaker: Karla Ausderau

Contributing Author: Brittney A. Jones

PURPOSE: To examine the effects of a guided imagery (GI) intervention on perceived psychological stress in pregnant adolescents over time
BACKGROUND: Chronic maternal stress can have a negative impact on birth outcomes including the physical, cognitive, and psychological development of a child with effects lasting throughout their lifespan (Rice et al., 2010). Pregnant teens are likely to experience high levels of stress due to economic strain, family stress, risk of medical complications, decreased peer social supports, and interrupted development (Beers & Hollo, 2009). Support services for pregnant teens are limited, and there are few interventions addressing pregnant teens’ unique stressors. Guided imagery is a low-cost, easily accessible relaxation technique that effectively reduces stress in pregnant adult women (Jallo, Bourguignon, Taylor, & Utz, 2008) but has not been studied in pregnant adolescents.
DESIGN: A quasi-experimental one-way repeated-measures design was used.
PARTICIPANTS: Thirty-five pregnant female participants ages 14–19 yr (mean [M] = 16.57, standard error = 1.17) were recruited in waves from a local alternative education program during two consecutive academic school years. All pregnant students, ages 13–21 yr, enrolled in the alternative education program for parenting teens were eligible to participate. Participants who delivered their babies prior to completing four sessions of guided imagery intervention were excluded from the study.
METHOD: Participants listened to a 12-min, 51-s pregnancy-specific guided imagery recording on four separate occasions in the alternative education classroom during their pregnancies. The Psychological Stress Measure–9 (PSM–9) was given as a pretest and posttest before and after each guided imagery listening session.
ANALYSIS: A 2 (pre–post) × 4 (session number) within-subjects repeated-measures analysis of covariance was used with duration of the intervention (M = 23.89, range = 7–44 days) as a covariate and post hoc pairwise comparisons with least significant difference. The independent variable was time, and the dependent variable was perceived psychological stress.
RESULTS: When pre- and post-PSM–9 scores were compared for each session, participants demonstrated a significant reduction in stress. Participants also demonstrated a significant decrease in baseline stress levels across the four listening sessions. The greatest reductions in stress within and between sessions occurred early in the intervention with effects diminishing over time.
DISCUSSION: Pregnant teens experienced initial short- and long-term stress reductions during a guided imagery intervention, supporting using guided imagery for reducing stress in pregnant adolescents.
IMPACT STATEMENT: A guided imagery intervention to reduce stress may be a useful component of a larger program promoting wellness in pregnant adolescents in which occupational therapists can positively support healthy development of a mother–child dyad with both generations in the pediatric stages of development.
Beers, L. A. S., & Hollo, R. E. (2009). Approaching the adolescent-headed family: A review of teen parenting. Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care, 39, 216–233.
Jallo, N., Bourguignon, C., Taylor, A. G. E., & Utz, S. W. (2008). Stress management during pregnancy: Designing and evaluating a mind-body intervention. Family & Community Health Complementary Practice and Products, 31, 190–203.
Rice, F., Harold, G. T., Boivin, J., van den Bree, M., Hay, D. F., & Thapar, A. (2010). The links between prenatal stress and offspring development and psychopathology: Disentangling environmental and inherited influences. Psychological Medicine, 40, 335–345.