The impact of the covid-19 pandemic on pregnant women with perinatal anxiety symptoms in pakistan: A qualitative study

Nida Rauf, Shaffaq Zulfiqar, Sidra Mumtaz, Hadia Maryam, Rabail Shoukat, Abid Malik, Armaan A. Rowther, Atif Rahman, Pamela J. Surkan, Najia Atif

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on people with existing mental health conditions is likely to be high. We explored the consequences of the pandemic on women of lower socioeconomic status with prenatal anxiety symptoms living in urban Rawalpindi, Pakistan. This qualitative study was embedded within an ongoing randomized controlled trial of psychosocial intervention for prenatal anxiety at a public hospital in Rawalpindi. The participants were women with symptoms of anxiety who had received or were receiving the intervention. In total, 27 interviews were conducted; 13 women were in their third trimester of pregnancy, and 14 were in their postnatal period. The data were collected through in-depth interviews and analyzed using framework analysis. Key findings were that during the pandemic, women experienced increased perinatal anxiety that was linked to greater financial problems, uncertainties over availability of appropriate obstetric healthcare, and a lack of trust in health professionals. Women experienced increased levels of fear for their own and their baby’s health and safety, especially due to fear of infection. COVID-19 appears to have contributed to symptoms of anxiety in women already predisposed to anxiety in the prenatal period. Efforts to address women’s heightened anxiety due to the pandemic are likely to have public health benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8237
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 2 2021


  • Anxiety symptoms
  • COVID-19
  • Low-and middle-income countries
  • Mental health
  • Pregnant women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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