Health System Shocks & Care Seeking Behaviour: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected care seeking behaviour for pregnant women who belong to ethnic minority or socially complex groups?
This research project aims to gain in-depth insight on how a life-course approach can be used to explain care seeking behaviour of pregnant women who belong to a hard to reach group (for e.g. ethnic minority or socially complex group), during a health system shock such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Pregnant women are more likely to develop severe symptoms of SARS CoV-2 infection and have poorer outcomes in pregnancy. Furthermore, women who belong to an ethnic minority or socially complex group are particularly vulnerable, attributed to social determinants of health factors and social deprivation. Policy changes and rapid reconfiguration of maternity services along with confusing guidance from the government has led to an observed reduction in utilisation of maternity services and hesitancy in vaccination uptake. Care seeking behaviour is rooted in dynamic social contexts, making it imperative to analyse how populations as a whole engage with health systems. I will use a mixed-methods sequential explanatory design: first investigating clinical quantitative data to find comparative rates of care seeking differences within groups, followed by exploration of qualitative data from participatory appraisal activities and in-depth interviews to explain and elaborate statistical findings. Using interdisciplinary social and medical science research, the project will explore how pregnant women respond to policy changes in the health system and help inform future policy development to manage imminent health system shocks.
Prof Laura A.Magee