Preconception Health Attitudes and Behaviours of Women: A Qualitative Investigation

Nadia N. Khan, Jacqueline A. Boyle, Adina Y. Lang, Cheryce L. Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


The preconception period is a critical window in which maternal health can profoundly affect both individual and intergenerational health. Despite its importance, little information about women's preconception health attitudes, behaviours and information preferences exists, yet these details are vital to inform targeted health communication. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore women's attitudes to preconception health (areas of importance, support sources, enablers and barriers), behaviours (information seeking and health actions taken) and information preferences. Interviews were transcribed, coded and thematically analysed. Fifteen women participated (n = 7 preconception, n = 7 pregnant and n = 1 postpartum). Women perceived optimising lifestyle behaviours including a healthy diet, regular physical activity, reducing alcohol intake and pre-pregnancy vitamin supplementation as important preconception health actions to adopt. Few women acknowledged the importance of formal preconception health checks and screening with health professionals. Barriers to achieving health behaviour change included anxiety, stress and challenges obtaining reputable information. Participants reported a lack of preconception information about supplementation requirements, safe foods and exercise recommendations. Information preferences included the internet or their general practitioner. Whilst women predominantly prioritised optimising diet and physical activity prior to pregnancy, there appeared to be limited awareness of preconception health checks and screening, highlighting a need for broader awareness of overall preconception health and wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1490
Number of pages12
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2019


  • attitudes
  • health behaviour
  • pre-natal
  • pre-pregnancy
  • preconception
  • pregnancy planning

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