Australian Journal of Primary Health Australian Journal of Primary Health Society
The issues influencing community health services and primary health care
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Online healthy lifestyle support in the perinatal period: what do women want and do they use it?

Lydia Hearn A B D , Margaret Miller B and Anna Fletcher C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Dentistry, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.

B Child Health Promotion Research Centre, Edith Cowan University, 2 Bradford Street, Mount Lawley, WA 6050, Australia.

C Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, 100 Roberts Road, Subiaco, WA 6008, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: l.hearn@ecu.edu.au

Australian Journal of Primary Health 19(4) 313-318 https://doi.org/10.1071/PY13039
Submitted: 15 March 2013  Accepted: 28 June 2013   Published: 31 July 2013

Abstract

Unhealthy weight gain and retention during pregnancy and postpartum is detrimental to mother and child. Although various barriers limit the capacity for perinatal health care providers (PHCPs) to offer healthy lifestyle counselling, they could guide women to appropriate online resources. This paper presents a project designed to provide online information to promote healthy lifestyles in the perinatal period. Focus groups or interviews were held with 116 perinatal women and 76 PHCPs to determine what online information perinatal women and PHCPs want, in what form, and how best it should be presented. The results indicated that women wanted smartphone applications (apps) linked to trustworthy websites containing short answers to everyday concerns; information on local support services; and personalised tools to assess their nutrition, fitness and weight. Suggestions for improvement in these lifestyle areas should be practical and tailored to the developmental stage of their child. PHCPs wanted evidence-based, practical information, presented in a simple, engaging, interactive form. The outcome was a clinically endorsed website and app that health professionals could recommend. Preliminary evaluation showed that 10.5% of pregnant women in Western Australia signed up to the app. Use of the app appeared to be equitable across urban and rural areas of low to middle socioeconomic status.


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