Patient-provider communication during high-risk pregnancy: Considerations for theory and praxis
The overall purpose of this study was to explore the ways in which patients and providers communicate with each other about high-risk pregnancy. The first research question I posed was how do patients communicate with providers about high-risk pregnancies? The second research question I addressed was how do providers communicate about high-risk pregnancy with patients? In order to answer these questions I conducted semi-structured interviews with two types of participants: women who experienced high-risk pregnancy, and healthcare providers practicing high-risk pregnancy care. I interviewed 32 patients which yielded 347 pages of single-spaced text. Additionally, I interviewed 6 providers which yielded 74 pages of single-spaced text.
A thematic analysis of the interview data resulted in several key findings. First, patients desired to establish positive and trusting relationships with their providers during high-risk pregnancy. Patients wanted to feel cared for and listened to throughout their high-risk pregnancy. Second, research findings identified the need for ongoing, formalized communication training for high-risk pregnancy providers. This type of training could include general communication skills when working with all patients, as well as more complex skills for interacting with high-risk pregnancy patients. Lastly, patients and providers both reported the desire to exert control throughout high-risk pregnancy. Patients expressed wanting to have input regarding care decisions, while providers desired patient compliance. These findings have implications at the organizational, provider, and individual patient levels. Additionally, this study revealed theoretical and practical implications and areas of future research which would contribute even further to understanding the complexities of patient-provider communication about high-risk pregnancy. Communication-based interventions may help to improve health outcomes centered around high-risk pregnancy in the United States.