Adapting antenatal information for women with learning disabilities
: an explanatory sequential mixed methods study of midwifery practice

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The purpose of this study was to address the gap in knowledge regarding the extent to which midwives in England are adapting information for pregnant women with learning disabilities, an area that has been previously unexplored.

The research used an explanatory sequential mixed methods design from a social model of disability lens to develop multiple perspectives and a more complete understanding to address the research question. The study comprised two distinct phases – collection and analysis of quantitative data, followed by collection and analysis of qualitative data.

The methods comprised a national e-mail survey questionnaire of all acute trusts with maternity units in England; three focus groups with midwives and one with policy makers and key stakeholders, and six semi-structured interviews with women with learning disabilities. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics and qualitative data were analysed using thematic analysis.

The study found that antenatal information was generally not adapted by midwives for women with learning disabilities. Midwives perceived their lack of knowledge, education and time prevented adaptation of information. Mothers with learning disabilities who participated usually spoke positively about their antenatal care but most of them reported difficulty understanding the written information given during pregnancy.

This research contributes to the small body of empirical evidence in the area of antenatal provision for women with learning disabilities. The findings have important implications for midwifery practice and ensuring services are accessible. The study describes the implications, makes recommendations and suggests areas for further research.
Date of Award1 Jun 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorEvridiki Patelarou (Supervisor), Deborah Chinn (Supervisor) & Elsa Montgomery (Supervisor)

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