Deakin University
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Views of women and health professionals on mHealth lifestyle interventions in pregnancy: a qualitative investigation

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journal contribution
posted on 2015-10-28, 00:00 authored by Jane WillcoxJane Willcox, Paige van der PligtPaige van der Pligt, Kylie BallKylie Ball, S A Wilkinson, M Lappas, E A McCarthy, Karen CampbellKaren Campbell
BACKGROUND: Evidence suggests that women are failing to meet guidelines for nutrition, physical activity, and weight gain during pregnancy. Interventions to promote a healthy lifestyle in pregnancy demonstrate mixed results and many are time and resource intensive. mHealth-delivered interventions offer an opportunity to provide trusted source information in a timely and cost-effective manner. Studies regarding women's and health professionals' views of mHealth in antenatal care are limited. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to explore women's and health professionals' views regarding mHealth information sources and interventions to assist women to eat well, be physically active, and gain healthy amounts of weight in pregnancy. METHODS: A descriptive qualitative research approach employed focus groups and in-depth interviews with 15 pregnant or postpartum women and 12 in-depth interviews with health professionals including two from each category: obstetricians, general practitioners, midwives, dietitians, physiotherapists, and community pharmacists. All interviews were transcribed verbatim and thematically analyzed. RESULTS: Women uniformly embraced the concept of mHealth information sources and interventions in antenatal care and saw them as central to information acquisition and ideally incorporated into future antenatal care processes. Health professionals exhibited varied views perceiving mHealth as an inevitable, often parallel, service rather than one integrated into the care model. Four key themes emerged: engagement, risk perception, responsibility, and functionality. Women saw their ability to access mHealth elements as a way to self-manage or control information acquisition that was unavailable in traditional care models and information sources. The emergence of technology was perceived by some health professionals to have shifted control of information from trusted sources, such as health professionals and health organizations, to nontrusted sources. Some health professionals were concerned about the medicolegal risks of mHealth (incorrect or harmful information and privacy concerns), while others acknowledged that mHealth was feasible if inherent risks were addressed. Across both groups, there was uncertainty as to who should be responsible for ensuring high-quality mHealth. The absence of a key pregnancy or women's advocacy group, lack of health funds for technologies, and the perceived inability of maternity hospitals to embrace technology were seen to be key barriers to provision. Women consistently identified the functionality of mHealth as adding value to antenatal care models. For some health professionals, lack of familiarity with and fear of mHealth limited their engagement with and comprehension of the capacity of new technologies to support antenatal care. CONCLUSIONS: Women exhibited positive views regarding mHealth for the promotion of a healthy lifestyle in antenatal care. Conversely, health professionals expressed a much wider variation in attitudes and were more able to identify potential risks and barriers to development and implementation. This study contributes to the understanding of the opportunities and challenges in developing mHealth lifestyle interventions in antenatal care.



JMIR mHealth and uHealth





Article number



1 - 11


JMIR Publications


Toronto, Ont.





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2015, The Authors