Taking antenatal group B Streptococcus seriously: women's experiences of screening and perceptions of risk

Birth. 2003 Jun;30(2):116-23. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-536x.2003.00230.x.


Background: Early-onset group B streptococcal disease is a serious cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality. Although screening protocols for group B streptococcus are common, little is known of women's perceptions of this screening and the disease itself. The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of women's experiences, knowledge, and perceptions about this bacteria and its screening.

Methods: Nine focus group interviews with 35 women explored their experiences and understanding of group B streptococcus screening. Transcribed interview data were interpreted to identify and articulate the women's experiences.

Results: Most women had little knowledge or understanding of group B streptococcus, obtaining their information largely from the stories or experiences of friends or family. Women struggled to understand the meaning and implications, both physical and "moral," of the disease for their baby and for themselves, clearly indicating both the subjective and statistical importance of the concept of risk for pregnant women.

Conclusions: Group B streptococcus continues to be poorly understood by pregnant women who try to understand and weigh up its risks and implications so as to make the best decisions about screening. The women participated in screening ultimately, however, since it was seen to be patently "best for baby," relatively easy for them to undergo, and part of routine antenatal care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / methods*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Assessment
  • Social Perception
  • Streptococcal Infections / prevention & control*
  • Streptococcus agalactiae*