Perception and Demands of Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women Regarding Their Role as Participants in Environmental Research Studies
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PregnancyBreastfeedingVulnerable populationEnvironmental riskQualitative Research
Company-Morales, M.; Zafra Aparici, E.; Casadó, L.; Alarcón Montenegro, C.; Arrebola, J.P. Perception and Demands of Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women Regarding Their Role as Participants in Environmental Research Studies. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 4149. https://doi.org/10.3390/ ijerph18084149
SponsorshipFundación Pública Andaluza Progreso y Salud de la Junta de Andalucía, Spain (reference: AP-0139-2017); Ministry of Health of the Junta de Andalucía, Spain - A-0043-2018; Ramón y Cajal programme (RYC-2016-20155, of the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, Spain).
A significant proportion of scientific studies consider pregnant and breastfeeding women as vulnerable subjects. The objective of this study was to analyse the perception of pregnant and breastfeeding women regarding their participation in environmental research studies. Our work is a descriptive and interpretative observational study that has been developed under the qualitative research paradigm following a phenomenological and ethnographic perspective. The study involved 173 women selected intentionally in two Spanish autonomous communities. To obtain the primary data, we relied upon 111 interviews, four focused ethnographies and eight focus groups. The data encoding and analysis was carried out with the help of NVivo 12 software (QSR International, Boston, MA, USA). We evidenced the need of pregnant and breastfeeding women for more detailed and accurate information on the risk of environmental pollutant exposure during their crucial life stage. In addition, these women claimed for a more participatory role in research studies. Pregnant and breastfeeding women in Spain ask for greater interaction with researchers and propose a dialogical relationship between valid partners. We conclude that our pregnant and breastfeeding women claim more research focused on their collective, as well as clearer, more accessible and structured information on the risks of exposure to environmental contaminants. In addition, they do not want to simply be informants; rather, they ask to be active and empowered members by providing their opinions and arguments throughout the research process.