In the UK, approximately one in six couples seek specialist help at some time in their lives because of fertility problems and the demand for infertility services is increasing. Studies show that involuntary childlessness can lead to considerable distress. However, research has mostly been carried out with middle class, white, treatment-seekers and has neglected those from minority ethnic groups.
This study explored the provision of infertility services to South Asian (Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian) communities in the UK. The research aimed to explore the social meanings of infertility within communities and to examine the experiences of couples receiving fertility treatment. It was the first major study of ethnicity and infertility services in the UK. The study was funded by the NHS Executive Trent, Policy and Practice Research and Development Programme.
The research team
Principal Investigator: Prof Lorraine Culley, De Montfort University, Leicester.
Study team: Dr Nicky Hudson, De Montfort University, Leicester; Prof Mark Johnson, De Montfort University, Leicester; Prof Frances Rapport, University of Wales Swansea; Dr Savita Katbamna; University of Leicester.
The aims of the study were:
- To examine the social meanings of involuntary childlessness amongst South Asian communities and to explore the ethnic, cultural and religious context of access to infertility services.
- To examine the experiences of South Asian couples who have been medically diagnosed as sub-fertile or infertile.
- To make recommendations for the development of policy and practice to service commissioners and providers.
The research included two phases:
- Focus groups with South Asian participants and individual interviews with key informants.
- Interviews with South Asian individuals experiencing fertility problems and interviews with health professionals providing infertility services.
The research was supported by an advisory group, which included representatives of infertility service users, academics and practitioners.
A report of the key findings is available here. The study also produced a set of resources about infertility in English and in four main South Asian languages: Gujarati; Urdu, Punjabi and Bengali as well as a resource aimed at health care professionals.
Audio versions of these leaflets are also available to download in Gujarati, Urdu, Punjabi and Bengali.
If you would like to find out more about the study, please contact:
Dr Nicky Hudson
School of Applied Social Sciences, Hawthorn Building,
De Montfort University,
Leicester, LE1 9BH
T: +44 (0)116 207876