EGA Institute for Women's Health


Tommy’s Centre Funded Studentship on Parental Counselling for Preterm Birth

Parental engagement in decision making during antenatal counselling for preterm birth

Tommy’s are providing funding to support a PhD studentship to explore the communication practices of obstetricians, midwives, neonatologists and neonatal nurses during parental counselling for preterm birth. 

During preterm birth, collaboration and communication between maternity and neonatal teams is vital to ensure parents receive consistent, evidence-based information about their infants’ prospects for life, death, and disability. Supporting parental participation in decision making enables safe and effective care and ensures optimal outcomes for infants and families.

Our previous research identified variation in communication practices of neonatologists during critical care decision making for babies who are critically unwell. We will expand this research to explore antenatal counselling of couples at risk of or who are experiencing a preterm birth. We will compare the approaches of maternity and neonatal teams, and any potential differences in communication styles and information shared.

The project will involve working closely with local maternity and neonatal teams to collect prospective data during parental counselling for preterm birth. The PhD will focus on using conversation analysis to explore communication patterns, identifying different approaches and their resulting impact upon parental engagement in the decision-making process. The data generated by this project will enhance multidisciplinary training for maternity and neonatal teams in their communication with parents and families around preterm birth.