Public dialogue on scanning and surgical innovations in pregnancy​

What is this public engagement project?

We are hosting a series of invite-only online workshops to explore public views on innovations in scanning and surgery during pregnancy.

Researchers in our Centre are developing a number of technologies that could help improve the diagnosis and treatment of conditions that some babies develop while in the womb. These technologies have the potential to improve outcomes but could also impact the experience of families in this situation and lead to a change in the way they are cared for. We want to talk to members of the public, to understand their thoughts on these developments, known as a public dialogue.

The basis of this public dialogue project explores the ongoing research from two Wellcome-funded projects co-located in the Centre that use advanced medical imaging to either improve screening and diagnosis of fetal conditions in the womb (iFIND), or to develop surgical interventions to treat specific fetal conditions in the womb (GIFT-Surg).

These workshops will be with a carefully selected group of participants, specifically, parents who have experienced a pregnancy of a baby with a condition that was diagnosed in the womb and parents who have not, and discussions will be chaired by trained facilitators. The findings from the discussions will be incorporated into an anonymised report that will be shared with leaders in the field. Parents’ views (i.e those with lived experience) on these technologies will help to influence future research and innovations in scanning and surgery during pregnancy in the UK and, ultimately, will shape the experience of expectant parents in the future.

We are working closely with a number of charities, building on existing and creating new partnerships. They have provided advice on language, materials as well as helping to recruit participants.

Objectives

  1. Understanding different aspects of public acceptability regarding the iFIND and GIFT-Surg projects, including:
    • Screening: ultrasound developments including AI/machine learning
    • Diagnostic imaging technologies (including MRI)
    • Developments in surgery and other interventions

    Plus associated data gathering and future usage, post-diagnostic support and language and presentation.

  2. Identifying questions and issues to inform future research applications
  3. Build understanding of engagement for project researchers. Utilise a multi-stakeholder advisory group as a means to ensure balance and ownership of the dialogue materials and outputs

Training for our researchers

  1. February 2019 : Engagement workshop, to bring research teams together and explore interest in pursuing a public dialogue
  2. December 2020: Webinar for researchers and clinicians working on iFIND and GIFT-Surg projects. To provide an overview of the dialogue process and to meet the core team​
  3. March 2021: Language-sensitivity training delivered by Antenatal Results & Choices charity. The aim of this session is to develop researchers’ confidence and competence on communicating around sensitive issues in antenatal care/pregnancy.

We have a Stakeholder Advisory Group which acts as a sounding board for the project, providing a range of views on the process and materials used with the public. It ensures balance and ownership of the dialogue.

There are clinicians and researchers from both iFIND and GIFT-Surg projects on the Group, as well as external specialists such as an ethicist and an NHS representative.


Outputs

  • Accessible stimulus material on research
  • The discussions at the workshops will be recorded, analysed and collated into a report that will be reviewed and shared with clinicians, charities, researchers and industry professionals.

Outcomes

  • Use insights to make recommendations to consider what changes could usefully be made to scanning and surgery during pregnancy in future research & clinical practice
  • Build researchers’ skills (confidence, communication, interpersonal)
  • Improve public understanding and trust in research

Impact

  • Adoption of recommendations
  • Shaping future research


This public dialogue is overseen by the Public Engagement team at the Centre for Medical Engineering, King’s College London.


Supported by specialist consultants 3KQ who are independently designing, managing and reporting on the dialogue.


Ursus is the external evaluator, to assess robustness, credibility, diversity of voices, balanced stimulus material as well as measuring the impact on researchers and clinicians involved.


The project is funded by the Wellcome Trust, which is a charity that funds scientific research.