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How to improve recruitment to pregnancy trials: learning from the experiences of participants and refusers. Seminar

15:00 - 16:00
6 June 2017
Building 44 (Shackleton), Room 3095

For more information regarding this seminar, please telephone Sue McNally on 02380 595150 or email .

Event details

Centre for Clinical and Community Applications of Health Psychology Seminar Series


Background: Diet in pregnancy has health implications for both mothers and babies, and pregnancy is a time when women may be open to making lifestyle changes to improve their health. Yet only a third of eligible pregnant women agreed to participate in a dietary intervention trial. This study aims to understand why.

Methods: Pregnant women were invited to participate in a trial of vitamin D supplementation. 194 of those who refused to participate completed a questionnaire identifying their reason for declining. Of those, 30 agreed to a telephone interview. Of the 169 women who have completed the trial to date, 30 have been interviewed face-to-face. All interviews were tape-recorded and analysed thematically.

Findings: Questionnaire data identified the most common reasons for refusing to participate: being too busy; and study requirements including taking tablets, bone scans, or blood tests. Analysis of the interview data showed that personal factors and beliefs about medical research influenced women’s perceptions of the study requirements and shifted the decisional balance towards or away from participating. Refusers tended to express a mistrust of medical research.

Discussion: Health psychologists have a key role in maximising recruitment, by identifying and addressing factors that influence non-participation, and by designing study materials and publicity that emphasise reasons to trust medical research.



Speaker information

Dr Sofia Strömmer, MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit. Sofia Strommer is interested in understanding human behaviour from a motivational point of view. She completed an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Neuroscience from Keele University in the UK. She has also completed master’s degrees in both Counselling and Clinical Psychology. Her academic work has always explored health behaviour topics such as women’s experiences of food choices and eating behaviours, and determinants of exercise motivation. In 2015, she completed her PhD in Psychology focusing on the nature and role of gains in exercise behaviour. Her work developed the Exercise Motives and Gains Inventory (EMGI), the first measure to assess what people get out of exercising and how well those gains meet the reasons for doing it. Sofia joined the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit in September 2014 as a research fellow to manage the SPRING trial. She works as a part of the team that continues important and promising research on effective ways of improving outcomes for the next generation by supporting healthier lifestyles in pregnant women. Her main undertakings in addition to managing the trial are conducting qualitative research on pregnant women’s views of intervention studies and health behaviour change. She is also involved in expanding the high impact work the MRC does to include notably overlooked and disadvantaged populations, such as pregnant teenagers. Sofia is particularly interested in identifying effective ways of supporting necessary psychological determinants of behaviour change, such as autonomous motivation, self-efficacy and sense of control, in order to maximise the likelihood of enabling lasting behaviour change.

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