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Decisions about Medication during Pregnancy

You can read the journal paper produced using this research here

1.     What is this research?

The title of this research project is “Reaching decisions about psychotropic medication during pregnancy in women with severe mental illness”. It is a user-led qualitative research project supported by us at the McPin Foundation and researchers at University College London. The project is one part of a larger research programme funded by the NIHR HTA programme looking at the risks and benefits of psychotropic medication use during pregnancy.

2.     Why is this research important?

Psychotropic medications are those that affect people’s mood or behaviour. This includes antipsychotics, mood stabilisers and anti-depressants that are often used to treat severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other psychotic disorders. Many women who are treated with these drugs may become pregnant, through both planned and unplanned pregnancies. At the moment, there is not enough evidence led information about the risks of taking these drugs during pregnancy, or the risks of choosing not to take them. It can be hard for women to get the advice that they need to make these decisions.

3.     What are we doing?

We have teamed up with researchers at University College London who are looking at patient records going back to 1995 to find out what happens to women who become pregnant while they are being treated with psychotropic medications. They want to know whether women choose to keep taking the drugs or stop, and whether either decision affects what happens to them or the child. The researchers are being advised by a group of women who have experience of taking these drugs and are directly affected by these concerns.

Alongside this large study of patient records, we are conducting a small user-led interview study with women who have had to make these decisions. We want to know how they thought about the issues, what worried them, what information or advice they had, and what decisions they made. These questions will help researchers and practitioners to provide the support and information women need. The research is being designed and carried out by four peer researchers with first-hand experience of the issues involved.

4.    What is the current status of the project?

The user-led qualitative study has recruited 12 women who participated in interviews between November 2013 and July 2014. The results of the study were published at the beginning of 2016. You can read the paper here

5.     Who do I contact for more information?

You can contact the team via contact@mcpin.org

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