Lafarge, Caroline; Mitchell, Kathryn; Breeze, Andrew C. G.; Fox, Pauline (Biomed Central, 2017-02-08)
Background Pregnancy termination for fetal abnormality (TFA) may have profound psychological consequences for those involved. Evidence suggests that women’s experience of care influences their psychological adjustment to TFA and that they greatly value compassionate healthcare. Caring for women in these circumstances presents challenges for health professionals, which may relate to their understanding of women’s experience. This qualitative study examined health professionals’ perceptions of women’s coping with TFA and assessed to what extent these perceptions are congruent with women’s accounts. Methods Fifteen semi-structured interviews were carried out with health professionals in three hospitals in England. Data were analysed using thematic analysis and compared with women’s accounts of their own coping processes to identify similarities and differences. Results Health professionals’ perceptions of women’s coping processes were congruent with women’s accounts in identifying the roles of support, acceptance, problem-solving, avoidance, another pregnancy and meaning attribution as key coping strategies. Health professionals regarded coping with TFA as a unique grieving process and were cognisant of women’s idiosyncrasies in coping. They also considered their role as information providers as essential in helping women cope with TFA. The findings also indicate that health professionals lacked insight into women’s long-term coping processes and the potential for positive growth following TFA, which is consistent with a lack of aftercare following TFA reported by women. Conclusions Health professionals’ perceptions of women’s coping with TFA closely matched women’s accounts, suggesting a high level of understanding. However, the lack of insight into women’s long-term coping processes has important clinical implications, as research suggests that coping with TFA is a long-term process and that the provision of aftercare is beneficial to women. Together, these findings call for further research into the most appropriate ways to support women post-TFA, with a view to developing a psychological intervention to better support women in the future.
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