Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Daniel W. McNeil

Committee Co-Chair

Ellesa C. High

Committee Member

Elisa Krackow

Committee Member

Kevin T. Larkin

Committee Member

Aaron Metzger


Anxiety and fear often are associated with pregnancy, and its short- and long-term biological, psychological, and social lifestyle changes that affect both the mother and the child. The primary aim of this study was to differentiate components of prenatal anxiety and fear, to facilitate operational classifications of those components. A better understanding of prenatal anxiety and fear can inform the creation of future measures and facilitate referrals for high levels of such distress. An exploratory descriptive research design was used to examine potential components of prenatal anxiety and fear (i.e., anxiety sensitivity, fear of pain, depression, and childbirth-related self-efficacy). The project involved a cross-sectional data collection from a heterogeneous community sample of pregnant women (N = 102) who attended the West Virginia University Healthcare---Obstetric and Gynecology Clinic, Morgantown, WV. The women were scheduled for delivery either by a vaginal (n = 91) or an operative (Cesarean, n = 11) birth. Data were examined using the cluster analyses techniques of Ward's hierarchical and k-means methods. A four-factor solution was chosen as the most parsimonious. Cluster 1 had high emotionality (i.e., anxiety sensitivity, depression), high fear of pain, and low childbirth-related self-efficacy. Cluster 2 was low on emotionality, but had high fear of pain levels, with low self-efficacy. Cluster 3 was low on emotionality, but had low fear of pain and high self-efficacy. Cluster 4 had high emotionality, low fear of pain and high self-efficacy. The clusters significantly differed on six of the seven variables associated with prenatal anxiety. Overall, the clusters were well differentiated, with implications for treatment and referral. Limitations and future directions were discussed.