Why do pregnant women participate in research? A patient participation investigation using Q-Methodology

Health Expect. 2017 Apr;20(2):188-197. doi: 10.1111/hex.12446. Epub 2016 Feb 26.


Background: Patient participation in study design is paramount to design studies that are acceptable to patients. Despite an increase in research involving pregnant women, relatively little is known about the motivational factors that govern their decision to be involved in a clinical trial, compared to other patient groups.

Objective: To better understand the viewpoints of pregnant women who take part in clinical trials.

Method: We chose to use Q-Methodology, a method of exploring the structure of opinions surrounding a topic. We developed a set of 40 statements that encompassed the reasons why pregnant women might want to take part in research and 30 research participants from the PRiDE study (an observational trial investigating the role of micronutrients in gestational diabetes) were asked to rank them in order of agreement. The finished matrices from each participant were compared and analysed to produce capturing viewpoints.

Results: About 30 women aged 19-40 involved in the PRiDE study completed the questionnaire. There were two overarching motivators that emerged: a willingness to help medical research and improve our knowledge of medical science, and having a personal connection to the disease, therefore a potential fear of being affected by it. A third, less significant viewpoint, was that of a lack of inconvenience being a motivating factor.

Conclusion and discussion: Understanding what motivates pregnant women to decide to take part in a research study is valuable and helps researchers maximize their uptake and retention rates when designing a trial involving pregnant women.

Keywords: Q-Methodology; consent; participation; patient choice; pregnancy research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomedical Research*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Motivation*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women / psychology*
  • Research Subjects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult