Risk perception is based on collective indicators, but it is influenced by the individual’s self-perception of his health-disease process. This study aims to investigate the risk perception of pregnant women who were identified as high-risk for premature birth and to seek strategies for better management of such cases.
This is a cross-sectional study where women who had completed their participation in P5 trial were contacted and invited to answer a structured questionnaire with open questions. Data were collected by telephone and analyzed using thematic analysis. The analysis categories were defined, and all the answers were reviewed, categorized, grouped, and a descriptive summary was prepared.
Two hundred eight Brazilian women have participated. Three categories were identified: (1) Risk perception mediated by health professionals; (2) Self-perception of risk through personal experiences and relationships; (3) Perception of treatment success. After receiving an explanation from a health professional about short cervix and premature birth, women understood the risk of premature delivery, recognizing the importance of early diagnosis to prevent premature birth. Unsuccessful previous experiences in prior pregnancies influenced women’s risk perception. Patients believed in the success of the treatment performed, placing their hopes on the treatment even without research guarantees about benefits.
Pregnant women’s risk perception regarding prematurity is based partly on personal and family experiences but mainly on information given by health professionals. The risk perception about preterm birth may contribute to healthy pregnancy, guiding necessary interventions and preventing adverse outcomes. Prevention studies on prematurity should thus focus on neonatal outcomes.