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Consent in pregnancy - an observational study of ante-natal care in the context of Montgomery: all about risk?

Nicholls, J; David, A; Iskaros, J; Siassakos, D; Lanceley, A; (2021) Consent in pregnancy - an observational study of ante-natal care in the context of Montgomery: all about risk? BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth , 21 , Article 102. 10.1186/s12884-021-03574-2. Green open access

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Abstract

Background How to best support pregnant women in making truly autonomous decisions which accord with current consent law is poorly understood and problematic for them and their healthcare professionals. This observational study examined a range of ante-natal consultations where consent for an intervention took place to determine key themes during the encounter. Methods Qualitative research in a large urban teaching hospital in London. Sixteen consultations between pregnant women and their healthcare professionals (nine obstetricians and three midwives) where ante-natal interventions were discussed and consent was documented were directly observed. Data were collectively analysed to identify key themes characterising the consent process. Results Four themes were identified: 1) Clinical framing - by framing the consultation in terms of the clinical decision to be made HCPs miss the opportunity to assess what really matters to a pregnant woman. For many women the opportunity to feel that their previous experiences had been ‘heard’ was an important but sometimes neglected prelude to the ensuing consultation; 2) Clinical risk dominated narrative - all consultations were dominated by information related to risk; discussion of reasonable alternatives was not always observed and women’s understanding of information was seldom verified making compliance with current law questionable; 3) Parallel narrative - woman-centred experience – for pregnant women social factors such as the place of birth and partner influences were as or more important than considerations of clinical risk yet were often missed by HCPs; 4) Cross cutting narrative - genuine dialogue - we observed variably effective interaction between the clinical (2) and patient (3) narratives influenced by trust and empathy and explicit empowering language by HCPs. Conclusion We found that ante-natal consultations that include consent for interventions are dominated by clinical framing and risk, and explore the woman-centred narrative less well. Current UK law requires consent consultations to include explicit effort to gauge a woman’s preferences and values, yet consultations seem to fail to achieve such understanding. At the very least, consultations may be improved by the addition of opening questions along the lines of ‘what matters to you most?’

Type: Article
Title: Consent in pregnancy - an observational study of ante-natal care in the context of Montgomery: all about risk?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s12884-021-03574-2
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-021-03574-2
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL EGA Institute for Womens Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL EGA Institute for Womens Health > Maternal and Fetal Medicine
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL EGA Institute for Womens Health > Womens Cancer
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10119221
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