Making the cut: a phenomenological study of the parental decision-making process for neonatal circumcision

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Monk, Kendra
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Male circumcision is one of the most common paediatric surgeries. Most research has concentrated on assessing medical risks versus benefits, yet the majority of infant circumcisions are performed for social reasons. A few studies have surveyed reasons for circumcising/not circumcising. However, they have not revealed the decision-making process. Drawing upon embodiment theories, this study explored expectant parents’ decision-making about circumcision. Interviews were conducted with six individuals. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was utilized to identify themes. Findings revealed eight major themes, including ‘gender jurisdiction’ (whether fathers should have more decision-making power than mothers). Another centred on deciding whose body was the focus – the baby’s or the father’s. All participants perceived bias, both pro- and anti-circumcision, in the information they received from health professionals. They expressed a strong need for objective information and support. The findings may be helpful to obstetricians, paediatricians, and midwives – as well as individuals and families facing this decision.
circumcision, decision, neonatal, phenomenology