Open Access Study protocol

Evaluating patient values and preferences for thromboprophylaxis decision making during pregnancy: a study protocol

Pablo Alonso-Coello1, Shanil Ebrahim2, Gordon H Guyatt23*, Kari AO Tikkinen24, Mark H Eckman5, Ignacio Neumann26, Sarah D McDonald7, Elie A Akl28 and Shannon M Bates39

Author Affiliations

1 Iberoamerican Cochrane Centre, CIBERESP-IIB Sant Pau, Barcelona, 08041, Spain

2 Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

3 Department of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

4 Department of Urology, Helsinki University Central Hospital and University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

5 Division of General Internal Medicine and Center for Clinical Effectiveness, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA

6 Department of Internal Medicine, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile

7 Departments of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Radiology, and Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

8 Department of Medicine, State University of New York at Buffalo, New York, NY, USA

9 Thrombosis and Atherosclerosis Research Institute, Hamilton, ON, Canada

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2012, 12:40  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-40

Published: 30 May 2012



Pregnant women with prior venous thromboembolism (VTE) are at risk of recurrence. Low molecular weight heparin (LWMH) reduces the risk of pregnancy-related VTE. LMWH prophylaxis is, however, inconvenient, uncomfortable, costly, medicalizes pregnancy, and may be associated with increased risks of obstetrical bleeding. Further, there is uncertainty in the estimates of both the baseline risk of pregnancy-related recurrent VTE and the effects of antepartum LMWH prophylaxis. The values and treatment preferences of pregnant women, crucial when making recommendations for prophylaxis, are currently unknown. The objective of this study is to address this gap in knowledge.


We will perform a multi-center cross-sectional interview study in Canada, USA, Norway and Finland. The study population will consist of 100 women with a history of lower extremity deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE), and who are either pregnant, planning pregnancy, or may in the future consider pregnancy (women between 18 and 45 years). We will exclude individuals who are on full dose anticoagulation or thromboprophylaxis, who have undergone surgical sterilization, or whose partners have undergone vasectomy. We will determine each participant's willingness to receive LMWH prophylaxis during pregnancy through direct choice exercises based on real life and hypothetical scenarios, preference-elicitation using a visual analog scale (“feeling thermometer”), and a probability trade-off exercise. The primary outcome will be the minimum reduction (threshold) in VTE risk at which women change from declining to accepting LMWH prophylaxis. We will explore possible determinants of this choice, including educational attainment, the characteristics of the women’s prior VTE, and prior experience with LMWH. We will determine the utilities that women place on the burden of LMWH prophylaxis, pregnancy-related DVT, pregnancy-related PE and pregnancy-related hemorrhage. We will generate a “personalized decision analysis” using participants’ utilities and their personalized risk of recurrent VTE as inputs to a decision analytic model. We will compare the personalized decision analysis to the participant’s stated choice.


The preferences of pregnant women at risk of VTE with respect to the use of antithrombotic therapy remain unexplored. This research will provide explicit, quantitative expressions of women's valuations of health states related to recurrent VTE and its prevention with LMWH. This information will be crucial for both guideline developers and for clinicians.