“You Probably Won’t Notice Any Symptoms”: Blood Pressure in Pregnancy—Discourses of Contested Expertise in an Era of Self-Care and Responsibilization

Lisa Hinton* (Corresponding Author), Alison Chisholm, Beth Jakubowski, Sheila Greenfield, Katherine L. Tucker, Richard J. McManus, Louise Locock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Pregnancy is not a disease or illness, but requires clinical surveillance as life-threatening complications can develop. Preeclampsia, one such potentially serious complication, puts both mother and baby at risk. Self-monitoring blood pressure in the general population is well established, and its potential in pregnancy is currently being explored. In the context of self-monitoring, the information and guidance given to women regarding hypertension, and the literature they themselves seek out during pregnancy, are vital to perceptions of disease risk and subsequent responses to, and management of, any symptoms. Drawing on online, offline, official, and unofficial sources of information, discourses are examined to provide analysis of how self-responsibilization is reflected in contemporary information, advice, and guidance drawn from multiple sources. A paradox emerges between the paternalistic and lay discourses that seek to challenge and regain control. Findings are discussed in the context of Foucault’s governmentality and medical power.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1632-1644
Number of pages13
JournalQualitative health research
Issue number9
Early online date11 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This study was funded by a grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) National School for Primary Care Research (grant number 310). Dr. Lisa Hinton is based at the Healthcare Improvement Studies Institute (THIS Institute), University of Cambridge. THIS Institute is supported by the Health Foundation, an independent charity committed to bring about better health and health care for people in the United Kingdom. Richard McManus is supported by a Research Professorship from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR-RP-R2-12-015). Richard McManus is an NIHR Senior Investigator. Katherine Tucker, Richard McManus, and Bethany Jakubowski have received funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care Oxford (NIHR CLAHRC Oxford), now recommissioned as NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Oxford and Thames Valley. Bethany Jakubowski also receives funding from the Primary Care Research Trust.

Data Availability Statement

Supplemental Material
Supplemental Material for this article is available online at journals.sagepub.com/home/qhr. Please enter the article’s DOI, located at the top right hand corner of this article in the search bar, and click on the file folder icon to view.


  • blood pressure
  • discourse analysis
  • information
  • preeclampsia
  • pregnancy
  • qualitative methods
  • responsibilization
  • self-monitoring
  • United Kingdom


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