Women's perceptions of COVID-19 and their healthcare experiences: a qualitative thematic analysis of a national survey of pregnant women in the United Kingdom

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2020 Oct 7;20(1):600. doi: 10.1186/s12884-020-03283-2.


Background: The aim of this national survey was to explore pregnant women's perceptions of COVID-19 and their healthcare experiences.

Methods: Through patient and public involvement, a questionnaire was developed and advertised via the BBC website, Twitter and other online media during May 2020. The findings were analysed by qualitative thematic analysis. Women who are currently pregnant, or who have delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic were invited to partake in a national online survey.

Results: One thousand four hundred fifty-one participants replied to the online questionnaire. Participants provided significant insight into the perceived barriers to seeking healthcare during this pandemic. These include 'not wanting to bother anyone', 'lack of wider support from allied healthcare workers' and the influence of the media. Other concerns included the use of virtual clinics antenatally and their acceptability to patients, the presence of birthing partners, and the way in which information is communicated about rapidly changing and evolving services. The influence of the media has also had a significant impact on the way women perceive hospital care in light of COVID-19 and for some, this has shaped whether they would seek help.

Conclusions: This is the first ever reported study in the United Kingdom to explore pregnant women's perceptions of COVID-19 and their subsequent healthcare experiences. It has also provided insight into perceived barriers into seeking care as well as maternal concerns antenatally, intrapartum and postpartum.

Keywords: COVID-19; Corona virus; Impact; Pregnancy; Survey.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections* / prevention & control
  • Coronavirus Infections* / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pandemics* / prevention & control
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / psychology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / psychology
  • Pregnant Women / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Social Perception*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology