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The interaction of personal, contextual, and study characteristics and their effect on recruitment and participation of pregnant women in research: a qualitative study in Lebanon

journal contribution
submitted on 2024-07-10, 07:52 and posted on 2024-07-10, 07:52 authored by Jennifer J. Ayoub, MINA Collaborators, May Abiad, Michele R. Forman, Gladys Honein-AbouHaidar, Farah Naja


Declining participation rates are impeding health research. Little is known about factors influencing the decision to participate in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Therefore, this paper reports on the various individual factors and their with contextual factors in influencing participation in research among pregnant women and the recommendations to enhance their recruitment in Lebanon.


This study used a qualitative research design drawing on focus groups and in-depth interviews. The Theoretical Domain Framework guided data collection and analysis. The three participant groups included: Group 1-Pregnant women (n = 25) attending public pre-natal events and antenatal clinics in Beirut; Group 2-Pregnant women (n = 6) already enrolled in the ongoing Mother and Infant Nutritional Assessment birth cohort study; Group 3-Key informants (n = 13) including health care workers involved in recruiting pregnant women. Conversations were audio recorded, transcribed, translated into English, and thematically analyzed.


Three main factors influencing participation were revealed, with each factor encompassing several sub-themes: (1) personal factors (altruism, self-confidence, personal interest in the topic, previous understanding of the nature and purpose of research, education level, and previous research experience), (2) contextual factors (societal factors, family and friends), and (3) study characteristics (burden of the study, ethical considerations, incentives, and research interpersonal skills and physician endorsement to participate). The results suggested a dynamic interaction among the identified factors, forming two intersecting axes, with a four-quadrant configuration. The y- and x-axes represented personal factors and contextual factors, respectively. Individuals positioned on the lower-left quadrant were the least likely to participate; those on the upper-right quadrant were the most likely to participate; while those on the upper-left and lower-right quadrants were indecisive. Study characteristics seemed to affect the decision of pregnant women to participate situated in any of the four quadrants. Specific recommendations to improve participation were also identified.


Our findings suggested an interaction of personal factors, contextual factors, and study characteristics affecting subjects’ participation. This interaction integrates factors into a novel dynamic framework that could be used in future studies. The recommendations identified may help improve participation of pregnant women in health research hence enhancing the quality and generalizability of research findings in LMIC.

Other Information

Published in: BMC Medical Research Methodology
See article on publisher's website:


Qatar National Research Fund (NPRP 6-247-3-061), Mother and Child Cohort: Towards Curbing the Epidemic of Noncommunicable Diseases in Qatar and Lebanon.



  • English


Springer Nature

Publication Year

  • 2018

License statement

This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Institution affiliated with

  • Primary Health Care Corporation
  • Qatar Financial Centre Authority - State of Qatar
  • Qatar University
  • Qatar University Health - QU

Geographic coverage

Qatar and Lebanon