Marianne Hutti, PhD, APRN
Marianne Hutti, PhD, APRN

As many as one-third of parents who experience the loss of a pregnancy may suffer from intense grief, resulting in anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress. Marianne Hutti, PhD, APRN, coordinator of the Women’s Health-Family Nurse Practitioner Dual Major Program at the University of Louisville School of Nursing, is leading a study that will help nurses and physicians predict which individuals would benefit from intervention to cope with intense grief over the loss of a pregnancy.

Miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death within the first 28 days after birth are known as perinatal loss.

Since an estimated 25 percent of all pregnancies are lost, more than 1 million families in the United States are affected each year.

This grief can affect subsequent healthy pregnancies and place the mother at greater risk for postpartum depression after a subsequent pregnancy.

“Parents with intense grief usually recognize this event as the loss of a child, but those around them do not necessarily understand the event in those terms. That means these parents do not receive the same level of support and recognition of their grief they may get when an older child dies,” Hutti said.

This study will allow Hutti to complete the development of a screening tool, the Perinatal Grief Intensity Scale (PGIS), designed to help nurses and physicians accurately predict which parents will be in greatest need of counseling and follow-up after perinatal loss.

“This scale will help identify those parents, particularly women, who are most at risk of developing intense grief and it will give nurses and physicians some direction in how to intervene and who needs additional support. We want to make sure that the women and men who are having intense grief get the follow-up that they need,” Hutti said.

Women who have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth or newborn death within the past eight weeks are encouraged to participate in the study. Participants must be able to read English and be over age 18. The study involves taking two brief surveys which can be sent electronically or by postal mail and take a total of 15-20 minutes to complete. Three months later, study participants will receive another copy of one of the same surveys plus two more brief surveys to complete. Investigators expect the study to be completed by June, 2016 and the PGIS scale to be available to practitioners shortly thereafter. Results will be shared with participants.

For information on participating in the study, email

Betty Coffman
Betty Coffman is a Communications Coordinator focused on research and innovation at UofL. A UofL alumna and Louisville native, she served as a writer and editor for local and national publications and as an account services coordinator and copywriter for marketing and design firms prior to joining UofL’s Office of Communications and Marketing.