Online healthy lifestyle support in the perinatal period: What do women want and do they use it?
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Exercise and Health Sciences/Child Health Promotion Research Centre
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.