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Title: Perceptions and experienes of risk during pregnancy and childbirth in older women
Author: Donaldson, Beverly
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2011
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Society is gripped by an ever-increasing preoccupation with risk and it is generally believed that women aged over thirty-five years are 'labelled' as 'old' in terms of pregnancy and childbirth and both they and their babies are perceived as being 'at risk'. This study investigated the impact of these perceptions on the experiences of women themselves and the professionals providing their care. The srudy, based on an interpretive approach, was conducted in three stages. During stage one women and professionals were interviewed to explore perceptions and experiences of risk in pregnancy and childbirth for women over 35 years old, who were pregnant with their first baby. Stage two focused only on the women participants and postnatal interviews were undertaken on a sub-sample, from six weeks following childbirth, to investigate whether perceptions changed following birth and what influenced that change. The final stage brought together a focus group of women who had taken part in the study and a further group of professional participants, to feedback the initial fmdings. Ethical approval was granted and access to women was negotiated at Trust level, using a delegated 'link' midwife at each location. Professionals were approached directly by the researcher . . Following infonned consent, interviews with 20 nulliparous women aged 35-42 years old and 20 healthcare professionals, comprising midwives, obstetricians and general practitioners, were conducted on the basis of purposive sampling. The sample was drawn from four urban, NHS acute hospital Trusts in London and one corresponding GP surgery. The aim was to explore the everyday lived experiences of those involved in order to generate an understanding of risk and risk perception in women and their professional carers that could be used to develop more effective care and means of support for this population of women in the future. Thematic analysis identified six main themes within each group, which although many were common to both groups, were interpreted differently. These included: balancing risks with uncertainty, differing perceptions, learning from experience, the importance of others in highlighting risk and risk perception, it is not what is said but what is heard that is important, influence of the media on culture and society, a changed society, challenging the biological clock, professional beliefs and the 'wise older woman', choice as a mediator for risk, risk perception and the culture of care, a life transition and how the media influenced risk perceptions and practice. These are discussed during the course of this thesis. The implications are that understanding how risk is perceived and reducing uncertainty are fundamental to providing effective care for older childbearing women .
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available