Description: A qualitative design using grounded theory methods to understand how active duty service members (ADSM) and their partners navigate the infertility healthcare process within the military healthcare system while managing a military career.
Objectives: The specific aims of this study are the following: 1) elicit ADSM's and their partner's experiences of seeking treatment for infertility within the military healthcare system; 2) illustrate examples of ADSM's and their partner's information-seeking behavior, participation in treatment decision-making processes, and health system navigation; 3) explore ADSM's and their partner's expectations while seeking infertility care; and 4) identify facilitators or barriers to effective infertility care while maintaining a military career and its impact on career progression.
Background: Advances in medical science, have motivated many military couples who experience infertility to pursue the option of utilizing assisted reproductive therapy (ART). Although ART allows for increased chance of conception, they require patients to engage in rigorous medical evaluations, invasive procedures, and lengthy treatment cycles. There are numerous factors that can disrupt, delay, or limit ADSM access to available ART. Military leaders and healthcare providers may also influence the decision-making processes and experiences of ADSM and their families who seek ART. Despite the potential impact on our armed forces, to date, there is a paucity of studies that have been conducted among this unique population.
Methods: Participants will be recruited using purposive sampling followed by theoretical sampling. Data will be derived from 1) demographic questionnaires; 2) semi-structured, in-depth interviews; 3) field notes; and 4) literature. Qualitative data will be managed and examined using NVivo (QSR International). Researchers will employ constant comparative analysis.
Study Findings: Study in progress.
Implications for military nursing: This study will allow military nurses to have an understanding of how couples perceive and manage rigorous ART demands that may enhance access to care, decrease costs, improve outcomes, and provide better support for military couples who experience infertility. The results may assist military nurses, congressional and military leaders, and policy makers understand the content needed to develop effective infertility treatment programs and policies in the Department of Defense.