An invitation to take part in research
Maternal self-care in the postpartum with the Alexander Technique
If you have a baby between 4 and 13 months old, you might be interested in participating in this research. The following gives you all the information you need to decide if you want to join the study.
What is the purpose of this study? The Alexander Technique is a self-management method. Read more about the Alexander Technique here. This research aims to explore women's perceptions of an online self-care package based on videos about the Alexander Technique. Additionally, this study aims to understand how using the self-care package and daily practice relates to some aspects of maternal well-being. You have to have had no previous Alexander Technique experience to join the study.
Who is doing the research? Nicola Hanefeld, Teacher of the Alexander Technique, member of the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique, STAT, as part of her PhD in Health and Social Care Studies at the University of Hull.
Structure of the study. There are several parts to this study: an initial telephone call with the researcher, watching five videos as input, practising daily 10 - 15 minutes and then filling out a survey on your experiences. The research has been set up so that everything can be done online.
These steps are explained in the following:
The telephone call includes short questions to find potential participants and takes only a few minutes. I ask your name, age, number of children, UK telephone number(s), work background, education, health status and if you are in a partnership. We can get to know one another and you can ask questions and anything that is unclear can be clarified.
Watching the five videos Mums with babies do not have much time to themselves. The videos are therefore short, the time needed to watch them is given. Ideally, they should be watched when your baby is napping, and you are alone without distractions. It is up to you when you watch the videos and then start the regular practice.
Daily practice After you have watched all five videos, you start practising the Alexander Technique while lying down on a daily basis. This practice is called "constructive rest". Again, this is best done when your baby is napping and you are alone without distractions. Instructions on constructive rest is given in the videos, shared as a document sent by post and an online recording is also available that you can access via a smartphone. If you cannot manage 14 consecutive days, that's fine. You just take up practice again when possible.
Completing the survey When you complete your 14 days of practice, the researcher will send you a link and ask you to fill out a short survey with nine questions about your experiences.
If you agreed in the consent form to participating in a short interview with the researcher about taking part in this research, you will also be contacted after your fortnight of daily praxis. The questions you will be asked during this interview are open-ended and non-directive, aiming to understand various aspects of your experience with the online self-care package. The researcher will adopt an empathetic, respectful, non-judgemental attitude during this interview.
This interview will be recorded and deleted once analysed.
Who can participate? To participate in this study, you must
- be over 18 years old and a UK resident
- have no prior experience of the Alexander Technique
- have English as a first language (or equivalent language skills)
- be between 4 and 13 months into the postnatal period
- have regular internet access
How much time will participation involve?
The initial phone call should take only a few minutes. You will need time to watch some videos which give you input on the Alexander Technique. The cumulative video time is 40 minutes. The practical work you will be asked to do alone at home is 10-15 minutes a day for a fortnight. The survey takes only a few minutes to fill out. The optional interview which will be recorded to give feedback on using the self-care package will be about 15 - 20 minutes.
Will participation in the project remain confidential?
Yes, information will not be disclosed to other parties outside the research group. Only the researcher and the research team will have access to the survey results and transcriptions of the interviews. Survey answers cannot be traced to individuals and are anonymous and confidential. All data will be treated confidentially. Responses to the semi-structured interviews will be used anonymously for this thesis and anonymously in publications. The EU General Data Protection Regulation and the UK Data Protection Act will be adhered to.
Participation If at any time you feel uncomfortable about the data you have been asked to give, then you have the right to withdraw from the study. If you wish to withdraw, you will not be asked why. You can withdraw at any time before the data analysis stage, but not afterwards. Participants will be informed when the data analysis stage starts. The data will be stored for a maximum of five years and then deleted. Your participation is voluntary; no reimbursement will be made for your time.
Potential Risks and Ethical Considerations
Ethical approval has been gained from the Faculty of Health Sciences ethics committee, University of Hull. There is no risk associated with study participation but there may be potential for discomfort arising during the quiet of "constructive rest". A ‘sources of support’ leaflet will, therefore, be routinely provided if you decide to join the study.
If a participant discloses information which suggests that someone is at risk of harm, then the researcher is bound to pass on this information. The researcher will talk to the participant about this and will discuss it with her supervisor. She may have to report the information, for example, to the local safeguarding team. As far as possible, the researcher will let the participant know before action is taken.
Contact for further information If at any point in the study you are concerned or wish to withdraw, please contact my supervisor or me. If you have any questions or complaints about this research, please contact either my supervisor or me:
This research is supported by a University of Hull scholarship, the Alexander Trust, registered charity No. 802856, the German affiliated Teacher’s Society of the Alexander Technique (ATVD e.V.).
Photos: J.Waring & N.Hanefeld