Risk perception in pregnancy: a concept analysis

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Abstract

Aim.

To report an analysis of the concept of risk perception in pregnancy.

Background.

Pregnant women are increasingly exposed to the view that pregnancy and childbirth are intrinsically dangerous, requiring medical monitoring and management. Societal pressures are applied to women that dictate appropriate behaviours during pregnancy. These changes have resulted in increased perception of risk for pregnant women.

Design.

Walker and Avant's method was selected to guide this analysis.

Data sources.

Peer-reviewed articles published in English from CINAHL, Scopus, PubMed and Psychinfo. No date limits were applied.

Methods.

Thematic analysis was conducted on 79 articles. Attributes, antecedents and consequences of the concept were identified.

Results.

The attributes of the concept are the possibility of harm to mother or infant and beliefs about the severity of the risk state. The physical condition of pregnancy combined with the cognitive ability to perceive a personal risk state is antecedents. Risk perception in pregnancy influences women's affective state and has an impact on decision-making about pregnancy and childbirth. There are limited empirical referents with which to measure the concept.

Conclusion.

Women today know more about their developing infant than at any other time in history; however, this has not led to a sense of reassurance. Nurses and midwives have a critical role in assisting pregnant women, and their families make sense of the information they are exposed to. An understanding of the complexities of the concept of risk perception in pregnancy may assist in enabling nurses and midwives to reaffirm the normalcy of pregnancy.

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