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Ultrasound as a technology of reassurance? How pregnant women and health care professionals articulate ultrasound reassurance and its limitations

Thomas, Gareth M. ORCID:, Roberts, Julie and Griffiths, Frances E. 2017. Ultrasound as a technology of reassurance? How pregnant women and health care professionals articulate ultrasound reassurance and its limitations. Sociology of Health and Illness 39 (6) , pp. 893-907. 10.1111/1467-9566.12554

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The premise that ultrasound technologies provide reassurance for pregnant women is well-rehearsed. However, there has been little research about how this reassurance is articulated and understood by both expectant mothers and health care professionals. In this article, we draw on two qualitative UK studies to explore the salience of ultrasound reassurance to women’s pregnancy experiences whilst highlighting issues around articulation and silence. Specifically, we capture how expectant parents express a general need for reassurance and how visualisation and the conduct of professionals have a crucial role to play in accomplishing a sense of reassurance. We also explore how professionals have ambiguities about the relationship between ultrasound and reassurance, and how they subsequently articulate reassurance to expectant mothers. By bringing two studies together, we take a broad perspectival view of how gaps and silences within the discourse of ultrasound reassurance leave the claims made for ultrasound as a technology of reassurance unchallenged. Finally, we explore the implications this can have for women’s experiences of pregnancy and health care professionals’ practices.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (CESAGen)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Uncontrolled Keywords: Patient-professional interaction; pregnancy; prenatal care; reassurance; risk; ultrasound
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0141-9889
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 20 December 2016
Date of Acceptance: 19 December 2016
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2023 18:39

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