Women participate in research for many reasons, some of them therapeutic. This paper retrospectively analyses women's motivations for participating in a study on decision making at the end of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. A mixed methods study conducted by a practising midwife had focused on women's experiences of stopping IVF treatment after one or more unsuccessful attempts, and raised awareness of women's motivations for participating. Thematic analysis of interview transcripts permitted issues raised by the participants in the context of 'research as a therapeutic experience' to be explored. Reasons for participating in the study included: (1) altruism; (2) appreciation/gratitude for care received; (3) the need to debrief; and (4) gaining self-awareness and readjustment, which challenged the acceptance of childlessness. Reasons for using the research study as 'a therapeutic experience' in the context of failed IVF may be attributed to: (1) access to direct clinical care and advice; (2) opportunity for self-reflection and rationalization; (3) acceptance of reality; (4) resolution of conflict; and (5) opportunity to unburden themselves. Women appeared to use the interview process to reassure themselves about decisions made, and to seek direct clinical advice on whether to continue IVF using donor gametes.
- therapeutic experience