An exploration of how women in the UK perceive the provision of care received in an early pregnancy assessment unit: an interpretive phenomenological analysis.

Research paper by Wendy W Norton, Lynn L Furber

Indexed on: 20 Aug '18Published on: 20 Aug '18Published in: BMJ open


The objective of the study was to explore how women experience care within an early pregnancy assessment unit (EPAU) and how they are helped to understand, reconcile and make sense of their loss and make informed decisions about how their care will be managed following a first trimester miscarriage. This was a single centre, prospective qualitative study. An interpretive phenomenological analysis approach was used to interpret the participants' meanings of their experiences. It is an ideographic approach that focuses in depth on a small set of cases to explore how individuals make sense of a similar experience. An EPAU in a large teaching hospital in the Midlands that provides care to women in their early pregnancy, including those experiencing pregnancy loss. A purposive sample of 10 women were recruited to this study. All of the women were either miscarrying at the time of this study or had miscarried within the previous few weeks. Six superordinate themes in relation to women's experiences of miscarriage were identified: (1) the waiting game, (2) searching for information, (3) management of miscarriage: no real choice, (4) the EPAU environment, (5) communication: some room for improvement and (6) moving on. This study found that improvements are required to ensure women and their partners receive a streamlined, informative, supportive and continuous package of care from the point they first see their general practitioner or midwife for support to being discharged from the EPAU. The provision of individualised care, respect for women's opinions and appropriate clinical information is imperative to those experiencing miscarriage to help them gain a degree of agency within an unfamiliar situation and one in which they feel is out of their control. © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2018. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.