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Feminizing care pathways: Mixed‐methods study of reproductive options, decision making, pregnancy, post‐natal care and parenting amongst women with kidney disease

Mc Laughlin, Leah, Jones, Caron, Neukirchinger, Barbara, Noyes, Jane, Stone, Judith, Williams, Helen, Williams, Denitza ORCID:, Rapado, Rose, Phillips, Rhiannon and Griffin, Sian 2023. Feminizing care pathways: Mixed‐methods study of reproductive options, decision making, pregnancy, post‐natal care and parenting amongst women with kidney disease. Journal of Advanced Nursing 10.1111/jan.15659

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Aims: To identify the needs, experiences and preferences of women with kidney disease in relation to their reproductive health to inform development of shared decision‐making interventions. Design: UK‐wide mixed‐methods convergent design (Sep 20–Aug 21). Methods: Online questionnaire (n = 431) with validated components. Purposively sampled semi‐structured interviews (n = 30). Patient and public input throughout. Findings: Kidney disease was associated with defeminization, negatively affecting current (sexual) relationships and perceptions of future life goals. There was little evidence that shared decision making was taking place. Unplanned pregnancies were common, sometimes influenced by poor care and support and complicated systems. Reasons for (not) wanting children varied. Complicated pregnancies and miscarriages were common. Women often felt that it was more important to be a “good mother” than to address their health needs, which were often unmet and unrecognized. Impacts of pregnancy on disease and options for alternates to pregnancy were not well understood. Conclusion: The needs and reproductive priorities of women are frequently overshadowed by their kidney disease. High‐quality shared decision‐making interventions need to be embedded as routine in a feminized care pathway that includes reproductive health. Research is needed in parallel to examine the effectiveness of interventions and address inequalities. Impact: We do not fully understand the expectations, needs, experiences and preferences of women with kidney disease for planning and starting a family or deciding not to have children. Women lack the knowledge, resources and opportunities to have high‐quality conversations with their healthcare professionals. Decisions are highly personal and related to a number of health, social and cultural factors; individualized approaches to care are essential. Healthcare services need to be redesigned to ensure that women are able to make informed choices about pregnancy and alternative routes to becoming a parent. Patient or Public Contribution: The original proposal for this research came from listening to the experiences of women in clinic who reported unmet needs and detailed experiences of their pregnancies (positive and negative). A patient group was involved in developing the funding application and helped to refine the objectives by sharing their experiences. Two women who are mothers living with kidney disease were co‐opted as core members of the research team. We hosted an interim findings event and invited patients and wider support services (adoption, fertility, surrogacy, education and maternal chronic kidney disease clinics) from across the UK to attend. We followed the UK national standards for patient and public involvement throughout.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0309-2402
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 3 April 2023
Date of Acceptance: 15 March 2023
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2023 09:38

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