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  Anticipating and experiencing pregnancy and childbirth in women with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: expectations and experiences

   Institute for Lifecourse Development

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  Prof Lesley Dibley  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) is a three-dimensional structural disorder of the spine. The cause is unknown, but increased incidence at puberty is thought to be linked to rising hormone levels and irregular development of muscles around the spine. AIS affects 1-5% of the global population, with girls three times more likely to develop the condition than boys (Konieczny et al. 2013). Surgery, involving insertion of titanium rods and pedicle screws to create a supportive ‘ladder’ that also straightens the curves and rotations, is usually offered when curves exceed 50◦. Inserted metalwork is overlaid with bone grafts, leading to resolution of curves, but inflexibility in the fused spine. Fusion may affect the natural increases of lordosis and kyphosis that occur in pregnancy, and low fusion of the lumbar spine precludes use of epidural pain relief in labour since the intrathecal space cannot be accessed. Women with AIS may have increased concerns about carrying a pregnancy, their options during labour and delivery, and whether any pre-pregnancy compromises in mobility due to the fusion might affect post-partum activities such as caring for, feeding, and bonding with the infant. The minimal research on pregnancy in women with AIS focuses on clinical outcomes, complications, and anaesthesia options (Cao et al., 2020; Chan et al., 2017; Falick-Michaeli 2015). One systematic review (Dewan et al., 2017) supports earlier conclusions that more research is needed to inform prenatal education and counselling for pregnant women with AIS. Although many women with AIS do deliver naturally, without complications, the frequent posting of questions on the Scoliosis UK Facebook page indicates that pregnancy and delivery are a concern for many. There is currently minimal advice for obstetricians or midwives on the care needs of this patient group. The main Scoliosis Support charity, SAUK provides generic public information on scoliosis and pregnancy. We could find no qualitative evidence reporting the experiences of pregnancy in women with AIS. Understanding these experiences could usefully add to the preconceptual and perinatal counselling and support of these women.  

Aim: To explore the lived experiences of anticipating and experiencing pregnancy and childbirth amongst women with spinal fusion for AIS, using hermeneutic phenomenology.

If you would like to discuss this opportunity and the PhD project before applying, please contact Professor Lesley Dibley, [Email Address Removed] or Dr Liz Gale, [Email Address Removed].

Duration: 3 years Full-Time Study or 6 years Part-Time Study. Type: Self-Funded.

How to Apply:

Please read this information before making an application. Information on the application process is available at:

Applications need to be made online via this link. No other form of application will be considered. Please submit your application under the PhD Human Sciences programme. All applications must include the following information. Applications not containing these documents will not be considered:

• A research proposal (about 1500 words) related to the subject topic *

• A CV including 2 referees * (one ideally being from a dissertation supervisor)

• Personal statement outlining the motivation for this PhD and this particular project

• Academic qualification certificates/transcripts and IELTs/English Language certificate if you are an international applicant or if English is not your first language or you are from a country where English is not the majority spoken language as defined by the UK Border Agency *

*upload to the qualification section of the application form. Attachments must be a PDF format.

Nursing & Health (27)

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 About the Project