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Art promotes pregnancy messages to Leicester’s South Asian community

A special art exhibition was staged in Leicester to raise awareness of research findings related to safe pregnancies in South Asian communities.

Powerful images of South Asian women relating to pregnancy were displayed at Attenborough Arts Centre at the University of Leicester on Friday, March 9.

They depicted some fears they experienced around seeking help for themselves and their babies, as well as the difficulties faced by language barriers. The professional and community relationships that enabled them to overcome these fears and barriers were also captured.

The art is linked to the Re-Assure film which was co-produced last year with women who had experienced complications in pregnancy and during the postnatal period. This film aims to help women share their safety concerns about life threatening illness and enable maternity response. The Re-Assure film was underpinned by research led by Dr Nicola Mackintosh while at King’s College London.

A shortened version of the Re-Assure film was used by the ‘Always Ask Campaign’ to empower pregnant women to overcome fears about speaking to professionals about health concerns, which was organised by the charity Tommy’s inpartnership with King’s College London and Babycentre.

Now Dr Mackintosh, who is an Associate Professor in Social Science Applied to Healthat the University of Leicester, is researching issues around help seeking for serious health concerns during pregnancy and the postnatal period amongst ethnic communities as part of The Diversity, Ethnicity and Voice Project. The new project is funded by the University of Leicester’s Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund, and supported by Attenborough Arts Centre and the Centre for BME Health partly funded by the University of Leicester.

In recognition that the Re-Assure film was co-produced with women of mostly white British origin, this follow-on project aimed to investigate whether the images and words from the film have cultural relevance and meaning for women from South Asian communities.

Dr Mackintosh said:“We have held focus groups and interviews with 21 pregnant women from the Indian, Bangladeshi or Pakistani community and 11 community leads to hear their views on the film.

“We have also continued to work with the cultural sector and partnered with the Attenborough Arts Centre, working with Gurdeep Sian, Associate Director and ChangeMaker, and artist Lorna Dunn.

Lorna attended the focus groups and produced visual minutes as a record of the women’s views. She has also captured key themes from the findings as drawings.”

The exhibition and the artwork was used to share findings from the research, while the next steps were also discussed, including research priorities.

The team is exploring options to adapt the original film by incorporating cultural diversity into the script.

The original film was cited as good practice by NHS London Clinical Networks London Maternal Deaths 2016 review. The shortened version of the film adapted for the ‘Always Ask Campaign’ has been endorsed by the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the Royal College of Midwives, and NHS England. This social media version achieved 900,000 views.

The Centre for BME Health is working to reduce health inequality in the region by sharing resources and promoting research. It is supported by the National Institute for Health Research’s Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) East Midlands, a partnership of regional health services, universities and industry which turns research into cost-saving and high-quality care through cutting-edge innovation.

To view the original Re-Assure film, click here.

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