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Curtin University
Collaboration for Evidence, Research and Impact in Public Health

Infertility and Marital Well-being among Infertile, Chinese Couples from Hei Longjang Province, China (2009-2011)


Chief Investigators

Project Manager/PhD Candidate

Collaborating Partners

  • Research and Education in Sexual health, School of Public Health, Harbin Medical University, China
  • Reproductive Medicine Center in the First Hospital Affiliated Harbin Medical University, China
  • World Association for Sexual Health/Reproductive Health & Research Unit, World Health Organization


  • Curtin Strategic International Research Scholarship

Project Aim and Objectives

In order to better understand the dynamics affecting marital well-being of infertile couples, and enable the development of effective interventions and improved treatment of infertility, the research aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • To describe the marital well-being, and
  • To identify the determinants that affect marital well-being of infertile couples;
  • To explore the perceptions and experience of infertility, and their impact on sexuality and marital relationship;
  • To construct a model for influencing marital well-being of infertile couples.


Currently in China, the management of infertility is mainly concerned with treating the physical impairment, based on this deficit, the research intends to explore the perceptions and experience of infertility, to reflect the dynamic features of couples’ sexuality in the context of infertility, and to gain insight into factors that influence marital well-being. Thus, the study will seek evidence to guide the future management of infertile couples and potentially provide more cost effective and quality services.

In addition, most previous research on infertility focuses on psychological consequences and coping issues. Research has not specifically identified the impact of infertility on a couple’s sexuality. In China, very little is known about the relation between infertility and marital well-being (including sexuality). It is necessary to focus on these issues and explore the implications, which could be useful in developing interventions to help infertile couples cope. Infertility is a public health problem according to its prevalence, reasons and consequences, but in reality, infertility still is not seriously considered as a public health concern. The research will be helpful for the maintenance, protection, promotion and restoration of the infertile couple’s health and well-being.

Project Overview

The research utilises a mixed-methods sequential explanatory design, which involves collecting and analysing quantitative and then qualitative data in consecutive phases within one study. A questionnaire survey will be used to test the bio-psycho-social theory that predicts that bio-social factors, infertility-related stress and sexuality will influence marital well-being. Qualitative data will explore to what extent and how the issues contribute to and/or impede marital well-being. Both quantitative and qualitative data will be used to bring together the strengths of both forms of research to compare, validate and corroborate results.

By purposive sampling method, 264 infertile Chinese couples will be interviewed in quantitative study, and be assessed before the commencement of IVF treatment.  In addition, a minimum of 30 participants who are infertile men, infertile women, infertile men’s partners and infertile women’s partners will be interviewed in qualitative study.

Current Project Status

Currently, two pilot studies for the validation of research instruments were finished, which were implemented from January to June 2010, one was about the Chinese version of Fertility Problem Inventory (participants: 200 infertile couples as case group, 45 couples with pregnancy after treatment as control group), the other was about the Chinese version of Multidimensional Sexuality Questionnaire (participants: 158 oil workers).  Based on these two pilot studies, two papers are already finished and being revised, which are:

  • The effects of translating the Multidimensional Sexuality Questionnaire from English to Mandarin: A test of reliability and validity;
  • Initial validation of the Chinese version of Fertility Problem Inventory: Findings from 176 diagnosed Chinese infertile couples.

In addition, the formative data collection is currently being conducted at the infertility clinic center, and 160 infertile Chinese couples have been interviewed to date.


  • Tao P, Coates R, Maycock B. The impact of infertility on sexuality: A literature review. Australasian Medical Journal.2011; 4 (11): 620-627.
    (selected as the best paper from a field of 500 submissions from across the world by Australasian Medical Journal in the year of 2011) 
  • Tao P, Coates R, Zhao Y, Maycock B.The effects of translating the Multidimensional Sexuality Questionnaire from English to Mandarin: a test of reliability and validity. Sexual Health.2012; 9(4):304-13
  • Tao P, Coates R, Maycock B. Investigating marital relationship in infertility: A systematic review of the literature. Journal of Reproductive Infertility. 2012;13(2):71-80
  • Tao Peng, Rosemary Coates, Gareth Merriman, Yun Zhao & Bruce Maycock (2011), Testing the psychometric properties of Mandarin version of the fertility problem inventory (M-FPI) in an infertile Chinese sample. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, 1-9, Early Online. DOI: 10.3109/0167482X.2011.609950
  • Tao P, Brody S (2011), Sexual behavior predictors of satisfaction in a Chinese sample. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 8(2):455-460
  • Tao, P., Guoying, D. & Stuart, B. (2009) Preliminary Study of a Chinese Language Short Form of the Marlowe – Crowne Social Desirability Scale. Psychological Reports, 105,(3),1039–1046.
  • Yingying, H., Suiming, P., Tao, P. & Yanning, G. (2009) Teaching Sexualities at Chinese Universities: Context, Experience, and Challenges. International Journal of Sexual Health, 21,(4),282–295.

Conference Presentations

  • Tao, P. (2010) Analysis and Coping Strategies Aiming at Developing Safer Sex Education on Middle-School Students. Conference of Specialist Roundtable on Comprehensive Sexuality and Reproductive Health Education: What is the most appropriate sexuality and reproductive health education for China? (Sponsored by Ford Foundation), Hangzhou, 27-31 May 2010.
  • Tao, P. (2010) Current Development of Sexuality/Gender Research in China: Changing, Challenging and Chance. South-south theories: a multi-disciplinary and trans-regional dialogue on human rights, gender and sexual studies, Buenos Aires, 24-30 April 2010.
  • Tao, P. (2009) Public Governance of Youth Sexuality and the Development of Sex Education in China. VII International Conference held by International Association for the Study of Sexuality and Culture in Society (IASSCS), Hanoi, April 15-19, 2009.