Hepatitis B and pregnancy: understanding the experiences of care among pregnant women and recent mothers in metropolitan Melbourne

Marvad Ahad, Jack Wallace, Yinzong Xiao, Caroline van Gemert, Gabrielle Bennett, Jonathan Darby, Paul Desmond, Samuel Hall, Jacinta Holmes, Tim Papaluca, Susanne Glasgow, Alexander Thompson, Margaret Hellard, Joseph Doyle, Jessica Howell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background: Pregnant women are a priority group for hepatitis B testing. Guideline-based care during antenatal and post-partum periods aims to prevent mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B virus and lower the risk of liver complications in mothers. This qualitative study explored knowledge of hepatitis B and experiences of hepatitis B related care among pregnant women and mothers. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with thirteen women with hepatitis B who were attending antenatal or post-partum hepatitis B care. The interviews were thematically analysed to assess knowledge and understanding of hepatitis B. Participants were recruited from specialist clinics in metropolitan Melbourne between August 2019 and May 2020. Results: Four major themes were identified from interviews: (1) knowledge and understanding of hepatitis B, (2) treatment pathways, (3) accessing hepatitis B related care, and (4) disclosing status to friends. Most participants displayed an understanding of hepatitis B transmission, including mother to child transmission. The main motivator of post-partum attendance was reassurance gained concerning their child’s health. Sources of hepatitis B information included doctors, online information and family. Participants identified parents and siblings as sources of support and reported an unwillingness to disclose hepatitis B status to friends. Conclusions: Women attending antenatal or post-partum care reported having overall positive experiences, particularly regarding reassurance of their child’s health, but displayed misconceptions around horizontal transmission. Knowledge gained from these results can contribute to the development of targeted models of care for pregnant women and mothers with young children to ensure their successful linkage to care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number817
Number of pages8
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Healthcare seeking
  • Hepatitis B
  • Pregnancy
  • Qualitative research

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