Original Publication
Open Access

Psychological and Medical Aspects of Pregnancy Loss

Published: October 28, 2015 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10240

Included in this publication:

  • Instructor's Guide for Psychological and Medical Aspects of Pregnancy Loss.docx
  • Medical Test Questions.docx
  • Medical Test Questions Answer Key.docx
  • Psychology Test Questions.docx
  • Psychology Test Questions Answer Key.docx
  • Run Time for Videos.docx

To view all publication components, extract (i.e., unzip) them from the downloaded .zip file. This publication includes large downloadable files. If you experience difficulty downloading these files, please contact mededportal@aamc.org to receive a free DVD version via mail.

Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


Introduction: This curriculum is an interactive learning tool for students and professionals who work with women and families who have experienced pregnancy loss. The curriculum incorporates both medical and psychological aspects, with an emphasis on the emotional and mental health consequences of pregnancy loss, clinical considerations, and guidelines for interacting with patients and families who have experienced such a loss. Methods: Students’ mastery of the educational objectives is facilitated by the varied components of the curriculum. The curriculum’s unique electronic design promotes interactive learning through integration of audiovisual didactic training (medical and psychological), case vignettes with standardized patients, critiques and discussions by a multidisciplinary panel selected for their expertise in treatment issues for pregnancy loss, real patient interviews with testimony from women and couples with a history of pregnancy loss, and self-study guidelines for implementing clinical skills. Results: The curriculum was assigned at the start of every third-year medical student block rotation in OB/GYN at the Drexel University College of Medicine (DUCOM) from 2008 through 2012. When asked how much they agreed with the statement “overall, my impression of this training curriculum is favorable,” 52.6% of participants either agreed or strongly agreed. Another 44.3% reported neither agreeing nor disagreeing with the statement. When the sample was restricted to only those individuals who reported viewing the full curriculum, 73.6% either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement. When asked how useful they thought this training would be in their work with women who have experienced pregnancy loss, 96.2% said somewhat or extremely useful. Discussion: OB/GYN residents in PGY2 and PGY3 at DUCOM viewed portions of the curriculum throughout their training program. While not formally surveyed, the OB/GYN Program Director obtained informal feedback from residents reporting that they appreciated the clinical vignettes and found that they related to different scenarios in different manners.

Educational Objectives

By the end of this session, learners will be able to:

  1. Identify common psychological responses that may follow pregnancy loss.
  2. Identify possible risk factors and causes for fetal demise.
  3. Initiate discussion regarding possible causes and consequences of pregnancy loss.
  4. Communicate empathetically with women and families experiencing a pregnancy loss.
  5. Recognize that patient-provider communication may need to differ according to each patient’s individual background and circumstances, which may contribute to her own unique experience of the loss.
  6. Assess the need for, and provide, mental health referrals for women and families following a pregnancy loss.

Author Information

  • Pamela Geller, PhD: Drexel University College of Medicine
  • Mark Woodland, MD: Drexel University College of Medicine
  • Christof Daetwyler, MD: Drexel University College of Medicine

None to report.

This research was funded by an APGO/WHEO Interdisciplinary Women’s Health Competency Award.


  1. Limbo RK, Wheeler SR, Hessel ST. (2003). When a Baby Dies: A Handbook for Healing and Helping. LaCrosse, WI: Bereavement Services; 2003.
  2. Novack D, Daetwyler CD, McGee G. WebPatientEncounter.Drexel University College of Medicine Web page.http://webcampus.drexelmed.edu/webosce/. Updated November 12, 2014.
  3. Rosenbaum ME, Ferguson KJ, Lobas JG. Teaching medical students and residents skills for delivering bad news: a review of strategies. Acad Med. 2004;79(2):107-117. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/00001888-200402000-00002


Geller P, Woodland M, Daetwyler C. Psychological and medical aspects of pregnancy loss. MedEdPORTAL. 2015;11:10240. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10240