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Opportunities of mHealth in preconception care: preferences and experiences of patients and health care providers and other involved professionals

Publicatie van Kenniscentrum Zorginnovatie
M.R. Dijk, van, M.P.H. Koster, A.N. Rosman, R.P.M. Steegers-Theunissen | Artikel | Publicatiedatum: 17 augustus 2017
Background: The importance of the preconception period and preconception care (PCC) are broadly acknowledged and the potential benefits regarding health promotion have been studied extensively. PCC provides the opportunity to identify, prevent, and treat modifiable and nonmodifiable risk factors to optimize the health of couples trying to become pregnant. The prevalence of modifiable and nonmodifiable risk factors in these couples is high, but the uptake of PCC remains low. Objective: The aim of this study is to identify the preferences and experiences of women and men (patients) trying to become pregnant and of health care providers and other involved professionals regarding mobile health (mHealth), in particular the coaching platform Smarter Pregnancy, and its potential role in PCC. Methods: Patients who participated in the Smarter Pregnancy randomized controlled trial (RCT) and health care providers and professionals also involved in PCC were invited to participate in a qualitative study. The barriers, benefits, and opportunities of big data collection by mHealth were discussed in focus group sessions, prompted with statements regarding PCC. Results: We composed five focus groups, consisting of 27 patients in total (23 women and 4 men), who participated in the RCT, and nine health care providers and other professionals. Of the patients, 67% (18/27) were familiar with the concept of PCC, but only 15% (4/27) received any form of PCC. A majority of 56% (combined percentages of statements 1 [n=18], 2 [n=11], and 3 [n=16]) of the patients believed in the benefit of receiving PCC, and all agreed that men should be involved in PCC as well. Patients did not have a problem using anonymized data obtained from mHealth tools for scientific purposes. Patients and health care providers and other professionals both acknowledged the lack of awareness regarding the importance of PCC and stated that mHealth provides several opportunities to support clinical PCC. Conclusions: Our findings substantiate previous studies addressing the low uptake of PCC due to unawareness or lack of perception of its relevance by couples who are trying to become pregnant. The positive judgment and experiences with mHealth, in particular Smarter Pregnancy, will stimulate future research and further development of effective and cost-effective personalized mHealth apps for patients, health care providers, and other professionals as an add-on to clinical PCC.

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