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Attitudes to perinatal postmortem: parental views about research participation
  1. Andrew C G Breeze1,2,
  2. Helen Statham3,
  3. Gerald A Hackett1,
  4. Flora A Jessop4,
  5. Christoph C Lees1
  1. 1Division of Fetal-Maternal Medicine (Box 228), Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, UK
  2. 2Fetal Medicine Unit, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Queens Medical Centre Campus, Nottingham, UK
  3. 3Centre for Family Research, University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, Cambridge, UK
  4. 4Department of Histopathology (Box 235), Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to Ms Helen Statham, Centre for Family Research, University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, Cambridge, CB2 3RF, UK; hes11{at}cam.ac.uk

Abstract

Objective To study parental attitudes to participating in questionnaire research about perinatal postmortem immediately after late miscarriage, stillbirth and termination for fetal abnormality.

Design Prospective self-completion questionnaire.

Setting UK fetal medicine and delivery unit.

Patients 35 women and their partners after second or third trimester pregnancy loss, making decisions about having a postmortem.

Methods Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about postmortem decision-making which included questions about their attitudes to taking part in research. Prior to giving full approval for the study, the Research Ethics Committee (REC) requested feedback after 10 questionnaires had been returned.

Results Responses from the first 10 participants were positive about the research and the REC allowed the study to continue. 31 questionnaires were received from parents of 17 babies (49% of those asked; 16 from mothers, 15 from fathers). Of the 22 participants who answered a question about the impact of participating in this research, 73% stated that completing the questionnaire had helped them feel better about the decision whether or not to consent to postmortem and none reported any adverse effect of completing the questionnaire. Additional comments made by 19 participants supported this finding.

Conclusion Research into this sensitive area of perinatal medicine where there is a poor outcome is possible and is indeed well received by many parents. RECs should not automatically take a negative stance towards studies of this type.

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Footnotes

  • Funding ACGB's salary was in part funded by Cambridge Fetal Care.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Cambridge 3 REC on 28th January 2005 04/Q0108/185.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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