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High-risk pregnancy, Perception of risk, Pregnancy risk factors



  1. Heaman, Maureen PhD, RN
  2. Gupton, Annette PhD, RN
  3. Gregory, David PhD, RN


Purpose: To explore factors women consider in determining their perceptions of pregnancy risk, and to compare and contrast factors considered by women with complicated and uncomplicated pregnancies.


Study Design and Methods: Descriptive qualitative study in which women described factors they considered in making personal risk assessments. Of the 205 women in the study, half (n = 103) had pregnancy complications, while the other half (n = 102) had no known complications. Written responses to three open-ended questions were used to determine factors women considered in assessing their risks. A qualitative content analysis approach was used to interpret the data.


Results: Four major themes emerged that influenced perception of risk for both groups: self image, history, healthcare, and "the unknown." Women with complications voiced greater risk perceptions and identified specific risks, while women with no complications mentioned potential risks that were diffuse and hypothetical.