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Br J Gen Pract. 2006 Mar;56(524):198-205.

Women's experiences of three early miscarriage management options: a qualitative study.

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  • 1East Somerset Research Consortium, West Coker, Somerset.



Miscarriage affects around one in six pregnancies. Much research has taken place identifying the consequences of this for parents but is mainly quantitative. Of the limited qualitative studies, none have explored women's experiences of the methods of miscarriage management received.


To assess the social and personal impact of different management methods (expectant, medical and surgical) on women's experience of first trimester miscarriage.


Qualitative interviews using a topic guide with a purposive cohort of four categories of women (each management method plus non-participants) 6 months to 1 year after first trimester miscarriage. Focus groups with both research participants and health workers.


Women from three hospitals in the South West of England that participated in the Miscarriage Treatment (MIST) trial.


Seventy-two interviews were undertaken between September 1999 and June 2000. There were also five focus groups (47 participants) and two feedback sessions (8 participants) with written feedback from 12 women. Interviews lasted 0.5-2.5 hours generating over 2000 A4 pages of transcripts. The transcripts were analysed for common themes, using standard proformas, which were filled in by individual team members and then discussed by the whole research team. Iterative readings in the light of new emerging issues ensured that new themes could be identified throughout the analytical process. All transcripts were then encoded for the identified themes using NUDIST.


Common themes emerged across all management options although some were specific to just one or two management options. The five major themes arising out of the data analysis were: intervention; experiences of care; finality; the 'baby'; and pain and bleeding.


Women's experiences and beliefs vary widely and their preferences need to be considered in their early miscarriage management. The three methods have different benefits and problems from the women's point of view. Competence and caring from professionals are especially important.

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