‘It has been the hardest decision of my life’: a mixed-methods study of pregnant women’s COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To explore psychological factors influencing decision-making regarding Covid-19 vaccination among pregnant women.

Design: Cross-sectional mixed-methods online survey comprising sociodemographic factors, health beliefs, trust and anticipated regret, and open-ended qualitative questions. Pregnant respondents living in the UK or Ireland (n=191) completed the online survey during June and July 2021.

Main outcome measures: Intention to vaccinate against Covid-19 during pregnancy, with response options yes (vaccine accepting), no (vaccine resistant), unsure (vaccine hesitant). Qualitative questions about perceived benefits and risks of Covid-19 vaccination during pregnancy.

Results: Multivariate analysis of correlates of vaccine hesitancy and resistance revealed independent associations for perceived barriers to the Covid-19 vaccine, anticipated regret, and social influences. Most respondents described making a decision regarding Covid-19 vaccination in the absence of satisfactory information or guidance from a health care professional. Vaccine hesitant and resistant respondents reported significantly greater barriers to the Covid-19 vaccination than vaccine accepting respondents. Concerns about the vaccine focussed on the speed of its development and roll-out and lack of evidence regarding its safe use in pregnancy.

Conclusion: Participants who did not intend to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in pregnancy focused on vaccine fears as opposed to virus fears. Results indicate that pregnant women need balanced vaccine information and unequivocal health care provider recommendation to aid maternal vaccination decision-making.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalPsychology and Health
Early online date22 May 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 May 2023


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