Whose role is it? Primary care and the provision of emotional support for women experiencing miscarriage: A pilot qualitative Australian study

Vellyna Sumarno, Meredith J. Temple-Smith, Jade E. Bilardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Miscarriage can cause significant psychological morbidity. Women frequently report dissatisfaction with healthcare professionals' support following miscarriage. This pilot study aimed to explore the views and practices of GPs in providing emotional support to women experiencing miscarriage. Eight GPs participated in semi-structured interviews. GPs considered women's physical care their top priority at the time of miscarriage however, acknowledged miscarriage could result in significant emotional sequelae. Most GPs felt it was their role to provide emotional support, including expressing empathy, listening and normalising miscarriage to mitigate guilt and self-blame. GPs preferred an individualised approach to emotional support and mostly offered follow-up appointments if a patient requested it or was considered 'high risk' for mental health issues. Some GPs believed miscarriage support was within the scope of primary care practice however, others felt it was the role of social networks and pregnancy loss support organisations. GPs identified several structural and external barriers that precluded enhanced emotional support. Further tools and resources to enhance support care may be of benefit to some GPs. The feasibility of GPs providing follow-up support remains uncertain. Further research is required to determine whether support is best placed within primary care or better served through external organisations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-395
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Journal of Primary Health
Volume26
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

Keywords

  • early pregnancy loss
  • general practitioner

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