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A qualitative study of pregnancy-related anxiety among women in Tanzania
  1. Melanie King Rosario1,
  2. Shahirose Sadrudin Premji1,2,
  3. Elias Charles Nyanza2,3,
  4. Shelley Raffin Bouchal1,
  5. David Este4
  1. 1 Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
  2. 2 Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
  3. 3 School of Public Health, Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences, Mwanza, Tanzania
  4. 4 Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Shahirose Sadrudin Premji; premjis{at}


Objectives To explore and understand the experiences and priorities of pregnant women living with fears and worries related to fetal/infant and maternal health, the birthing process and ability to parent the infant (ie, pregnancy-related anxiety (PRA)) in Mwanza, Tanzania.

Design Descriptive phenomenological approach.

Setting Two clinics in the Ilemela and Nyamagana districts of Mwanza.

Participants Pregnant and postpartum women who obtained high scores on a PRA scale during pregnancy in a larger quantitative study were contacted to participate in an interview (10 women, aged 18–34 years; 3 HIV positive).

Measures Semi-structured interviews were undertaken, with guiding questions related to the women's experience during pregnancy. The Colaizzi method was used with transcripts that had been translated and back translated from Swahili to English and then hand-coded by the interviewer, with independent review by another researcher to verify the analysis.

Results PRA, as experienced by women in Mwanza, was a state of worry and concern, often causing physical symptoms, and disrupting personal sense of peace. While some themes in the women's experiences reflected the domains examined in the PRA scale used to identify potential participants, others such as lack of knowledge, partner relationship, interactions with the healthcare system, spirituality and fear of HIV/AIDS were otherwise missing. Their prominence in the participants’ stories broadens our understanding of PRA.

Conclusions The realities and viewpoints of women in low-income and middle-income countries (LMIC) experiencing PRA are still relatively unknown. The findings from this study provided much-needed insight into the perspectives and priorities of women in Mwanza who have experienced PRA and further support the need to explore this phenomenon in other LMIC. The additional domains identified reinforce the need for a PRA tool that accurately and adequately capture the complexities of PRA for women in this region.

  • pregnancy-related anxiety
  • anxiety
  • women's health
  • pregnancy
  • global health

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  • Contributors MKR and SSP developed the research question, designed the study, participated in data analysis and drafted the manuscript. ECN coordinated efforts in Mwanza, including translating documents, obtaining ethics approval and coordinating local assistants. SRB and DE provided consultation from the research design through to the manuscript development. All authors have contributed to the work and approved the manuscript.

  • Funding The University of Calgary Research Grant (URGC) Program, SEED Grant, funded the larger quantitative study. MRK's graduate studies was supported by scholarships including Alberta Graduate Student Scholarship, Charlotte Firth Memorial Graduate Scholarship in Community Health Nursing, Education for the Future Master of Nursing Scholarship and the Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval University of Calgary Conjoint Health Research Ethics Board (REB13-0399: larger study; REB14-0660: this study; and REB14-0660-MOD-1: to include postpartum women) and the Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement There are ethical restrictions that prohibit us from making data publicly available. We do not have permission from the participants to share all the interview data stemming from this study, especially the transcripts from the interviews. During the informed consent process, we indicated that the data would be shared in aggregate.

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