Women’s vulnerability within the childbearing continuum: A scoping review
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School of Medicine and Surgery, University of Milano- Bicocca, Monza, Italy
Foundation MBBM, Monza, Italy
Elisabetta Colciago   

School of Medicine and Surgery, University of Milano-Bicocca, Via Cadore 48, Monza, 20900, Italy
Publication date: 2020-05-12
Submission date: 2020-02-03
Final revision date: 2020-04-01
Acceptance date: 2020-04-01
Eur J Midwifery 2020;4(May):18
The aim of this scoping review is to explore the concept of ‘vulnerability’ affecting pregnant women and to identify an appropriate definition of this term.

Five stages were adopted for conducting the scoping review. A literature search was undertaken between 1 October 2017 and 5 January 2018, using three databases. Relevant publications were appraised, and semantic content analysis was performed to identify emergent themes and four determinants of the vulnerability concept. This involved combining items that seem to address the same issue.

Eleven publications were considered, and eight definitions of vulnerability were identified, and from these four themes emerged: poor health outcome or status; exposure to risk; complex social needs; and lack of resources. Further analysis of evidence found examples of groups of people considered to be vulnerable; they were reported into six matrices, mainly with social and psychological difficulties. From these, eleven themes arose. Following a semantic and content analysis of all themes, thirteen final themes were identified. They represent the characteristics associated with women considered to be vulnerable and are called indices of vulnerability. Semantic and content analysis allowed addressing the thirteen indices of vulnerability into four categories called determinants of the vulnerability concept: deficiency, need, risk exposure, and barriers.

The vulnerability could be defined as a lack of health, related to the presence of at least one of the four determinants. Midwives are the key to identify vulnerable women, offering appropriate care.

The authors have completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest and none was reported.
There was no source of funding for this research.
Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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