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Maternal attitudes towards participation in a mother–baby research study

02 February 2015
Volume 23 · Issue 2


Maternal attitudes to participation in an observational research study were assessed using a structured self-administered questionnaire. The study involved collecting blood samples from mothers and infants after birth and at 5 months postpartum to analyse the concentration of specific antibodies against vaccine preventable diseases. The most common reason for study participation was a desire to further scientific knowledge (n=29; 44%); a smaller number were motivated by the benefits of study participation for their baby (n=11; 17%). Most mothers were not upset, or only a little upset, by blood sampling from their newborn; only a minority found it very upsetting. Most women expressed that they had derived some benefit from study participation as they were reminded when their babies' vaccines were due. This study has shown that participation in a study involving blood sampling of newborn babies was acceptable to participating women and this may encourage health professionals to consider postpartum mothers and neonates as candidates for inclusion in research studies.

Research involving young infants is essential to derive investigational and therapeutic innovations to benefit this group. However, there is often a reluctance on the part of health professionals to enrol neonates in research studies that involve interventions such as blood sampling due to a perceived maternal reluctance to participate (Mason et al, 2000). Parents have the right to participate in research, but they must have detailed information about the research study in order to exercise this right. Woolfall et al (2013) observed that the main factors that contributed to a decision about research participation included the clinical benefit that the child might derive balanced against the practicalities of participation and potential for harm. As well as considering the implications for their child, altruism and desire for the collective good are also motivating factors for parents, as long as the hypothetical risk to their own child is small (Hoehn et al, 2005; Sammons et al, 2007; Wendler and Jenkins, 2008; Woolfall, 2013). However, there is a paucity of literature on parental reactions towards research involving healthy newborn infants. In order to understand the acceptability of our research to participants and ensure patient and public involvement in the study (PPI), a questionnaire was administered at the end of participation in the research project. The study aimed to investigate the motivating factors that influenced participation in a mother-infant study and how women felt about blood being collected from themselves and their infants.

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