“Walking into the unknown…” key challenges of pregnancy and early parenting with inflammatory arthritis: a systematic review and thematic synthesis of qualitative studies Rebić, Nevena; Garg, Ria; Ellis, Ursula; Kitchin, Vanessa; Munro, Sarah; Hazlewood, Glen S.; Amiri, Neda; Bansback, Nick; De Vera, Mary A.
Background: To conduct a systematic review and thematic synthesis of qualitative studies on the pregnancy and early parenting experiences of patients with inflammatory arthritis (IA). Methods: We searched online databases for English-language, qualitative studies capturing the experiences of females with IA or their healthcare providers with pregnancy and/or early parenthood. We extracted findings from included studies and used thematic synthesis to develop descriptive and higher-order analytical themes. Results: Of 20 included studies, our analysis identified 5 analytical themes among patients and 3 among providers. Patients’ reproductive desires, the impact of IA on their ability to experience pregnancy, and the availability of information to guide preparedness informed their pregnancy decisions. Patients’ IA management, pregnancy expectations, and access to support influenced their reproductive experiences. Patients’ experiences seeking information and care revealed substantial gaps in reproductive care provision to patients with IA. Reproductive uncertainty related to IA placed a heavy burden on patients’ emotional and psychological wellbeing. Reproductive care provision was influenced by providers’ perceived professional responsibility to address patients’ reproductive goals, fears of negative outcomes, and capacity to harness patient trust, incorporate reproductive care into rheumatology practice and facilitate multi-disciplinary care coordination. Conclusions: Our review illuminated several barriers to experiencing pregnancy among patients with IA, particularly related to pregnancy planning support, availability of information, and care coordination among the patient’s healthcare team. To improve care, these barriers may be mitigated through the provision of relevant, practical, and consistent information as well as patient-centred multi-disciplinary approaches for managing pregnancy among patients with IA.
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