Evaluating Engagement in a Digital and Dietetic Intervention Promoting Healthy Weight Gain in Pregnancy: Mixed Methods Study

Jane C. Willcox, Daniel Chai, Lawrence J. Beilin, Susan L. Prescott, Desiree Silva, Cliff Neppe, Rae Chi Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Early excess and inadequate gestational weight gain (GWG) have been associated with negative outcomes for mother and child. The use of digital media to deliver pregnancy lifestyle interventions is increasing, but there is little data on participant engagement. The Pregnancy Lifestyle Activity and Nutrition (PLAN) intervention pilot study was an electronic health and dietetic-delivered intervention program promoting healthy GWG in early pregnancy. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to explore the interactions of participants with the program and to assess its acceptability. METHODS: This study uses both quantitative and qualitative methods using data from parent randomized controlled trial (ACTRN12617000725369). Quantitative data from 22 participants in the intervention arm who completed the study provided measures of the interactions participants had with the digital components of the program and with dietetic consultations. A descriptive qualitative analysis employed semistructured interviews with 9 participants to elicit views on the acceptability of the intervention and its components. RESULTS: The electronic delivery of information and recording of weight from 8 to 20 weeks of gestation were universally accepted. Component (face-to-face dietitian, weight tracker, website information delivery, and SMS goal prompting) acceptability and engagement differed between individuals. A total of 4 key themes emerged from the qualitative analysis: supporting lifestyle change, component acceptability and value, delivery platforms, and engagement barriers. CONCLUSIONS: The PLAN intervention and its delivery via a blend of personal dietetic consultations and digital program delivery was found to be acceptable and valuable to pregnant women. Individuals responded differently to various components, emphasizing the importance of including women in the development of lifestyle interventions and allowing participants to choose and tailor programs. Larger randomized controlled trials using these insights in a broader section of the community are needed to inform the iterative development of practical, time-efficient, and cost-effective ways of supporting optimal GWG with the potential to optimize outcomes for pregnant women and their child.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere17845
Pages (from-to)e17845
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2020


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