Meredith Vanstone is Principal Investigator, with Devon Greyson of the University of British Columbia, on an important new study looking at how COVID-19 affected health decisions made during pregnancy. The  research proposal for “How do perceptions of COVID-19 risk influence health-decisions in pregnancy?” was ranked first in its committee group by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR).

Vanstone is also a co-investigator on two other studies that received funding from CIHR in the same competition. The studies are all funded under a special category aimed at assessing the wider health impacts of COVID-19.

The synopsis of the pregnancy heath decision-making study notes that pregnant people have been vulnerable to both direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19, but it is unknown how their perceptions of COVID-19 risk impacted the health decisions they made in pregnancy about vaccination, prenatal care, and social supports for mental health. It is also not known how these decisions may differ across groups of pregnant people.

Vanstone says the research has three themes.

 “In each theme we are interested in how perceptions of COVID risk influenced decisions: 1) whether and when to get vaccinated (COVID vaccine if eligible, Tdap vaccine for everyone); 2) engagement with prenatal care (e.g. type of care provider, declining particular types of prenatal care, virtual care, length of stay in hospital); and 3) decisions about social contact which may influence mental health.”

The two-year study will analyze administrative data from Ontario and British Columbia on key outcomes related to vaccination, perinatal care, social supports, and mental health at different stages of the pandemic. Researchers will also conduct interviews with people who gave birth between May 1, 2020 and Dec 1, 2021, to understand how their perceptions of COVID-19 risk and pandemic circumstances influenced their decision-making.

Co-investigators, many of whom have ties to McMaster’s Health Policy PhD program and the Department of Family Medicine, are Hamideh Bayrampour, Elizabeth Darling, Amie Davis, Michelle Howard, Sujane Kandasamy, Jessica Liauw, Sarah McDonald, Monica Molinaro, Manisha Pahwa, and Tejal Patel.

The results of this study will contribute to understanding how individuals perceive risk and how it influences their decision-making, which is important for future health promotion initiatives in a variety of settings.

Vanstone is also a co-investigator on Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the primary care of chronic conditions (Principal Investigators Michelle Howard and Dee Mangin) and Moral distress in critical care and family medicine during the COVID-19 pandemic, co-led by Lawrence Grierson and post-doctoral fellow Monica Molinaro.

Findings from all three studies will support the health care system with research that responds to the current and future phases of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more here.

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