Sometimes Doing the Right Thing Sucks: Frame Combinations and Multi-Fetal Pregnancy Reduction Decision Difficulty

Department of Health and Sports Sciences, College of Education and Human Development, University of Louisville, USA.
Social Science & Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.89). 01/2008; 65(11):2342-56. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2007.06.026
Source: PubMed


Data are analyzed for 54 women who made an appointment with a North American Center specializing in multifetal pregnancy reduction (MFPR) to be counseled and possibly have a reduction. The impact on decision difficulty of combinations of three frames through which patients may understand and consider their options and use to justify their decisions are examined: a conceptional frame marked by a belief that life begins at conception; a medical frame marked by a belief in the statistics regarding risk and risk prevention through selective reduction; and a lifestyle frame marked by a belief that a balance of children and career has normative value. All data were gathered through semi-structured interviews and observation during the visit to the center over an average 2.5h period. Decision difficulty was indicated by self-assessed decision difficulty and by residual emotional turmoil surrounding the decision. Qualitative comparative analysis was used to analyze the impact of combinations of frames on decision difficulty. Separate analyses were conducted for those reducing only to three fetuses (or deciding not to reduce) and women who chose to reduce below three fetuses. Results indicated that for those with a non-intense conceptional frame, the decision was comparatively easy no matter whether the patients had high or low values of medical and lifestyle frames. For those with an intense conceptional frame, the decision was almost uniformly difficult, with the exception of those who chose to reduce only to three fetuses. Simplifying the results to their most parsimonious scenarios oversimplifies the results and precludes an understanding of how women can feel pulled in different directions by the dictates of the frames they hold. Variations in the characterization of intense medical frames, for example, can both pull toward reduction to two fetuses and neutralize shame and guilt by seeming to remove personal responsibility for the decision. We conclude that the examination of frame combinations is an important tool for understanding the way women carrying multiple fetuses negotiate their way through multi-fetal pregnancies, and that it may have more general relevance for understanding pregnancy decisions in context.

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