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Keywords:

  • High risk pregnancy;
  • Perception of risk;
  • Pregnancy risk factors

Objective:

To compare the perception of risk of women with complicated and uncomplicated pregnancies and to determine the relationship between biomedical, psychosocial, and demographic risk factors and women's personal perceptions of pregnancy risk.

Design:

A descriptive, correlational study.

Setting:

Antenatal units and outpatient clinics of two tertiary care teaching hospitals in western Canada.

Patients/Participants:

A convenience sample of 105 women having a complicated pregnancy requiring hospitalization for more than 48 hours and 103 women with no known complications and no hospitalization during the pregnancy.

Main Outcome Measure:

Perception of risk during pregnancy.

Results:

Women with complicated pregnancies perceived their overall risk and risk for specific pregnancy outcomes as significantly higher than women with uncomplicated pregnancies. State anxiety and biomedical risk were positively related to perception of risk, but there was no relationship between stress, self-esteem, or social support and perception of risk. The strongest predictors of self-perception of pregnancy risk were the biomedical risk score and state anxiety.

Conclusion:

Women with complicated pregnancies perceive their risks as higher than women with uncomplicated pregnancies. Both biomedical and psychosocial factors play a role in influencing risk perception. Nursing assessment of the pregnant woman should include discussion with her of her perception of risk.