Undergraduate Student Awareness of Issues Related to Preconception Health and Pregnancy
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Objectives To assess undergraduate student awareness of issues related to preconception health and pregnancy and to investigate gender differences. Methods Two-hundred forty-one undergraduate students (137 females, 104 males) completed a questionnaire designed to assess awareness of issues related to preconception health and pregnancy. Results Overall, students demonstrated a low to moderate level of awareness, correctly answering 64% of items. Individual student scores varied a great deal, ranging from 33% to 89% correct. Students who had previously taken a course containing information on pregnancy and/or child development correctly answered a greater percentage of items than those who had not taken such a course. Females had slightly, but statistically significantly, higher awareness scores than males. Students self-reported ratings of awareness of behaviors that are dangerous during pregnancy were associated with their composite scores on the questionnaire. Awareness across individual items varied a great deal. Students demonstrated a high level of awareness for substance use, a moderate level of awareness for sexually transmitted diseases and preconception care, and lower levels of awareness for folic acid, prenatal development, health, and pregnancy spacing. Conclusions Efforts to improve preconception health should include increasing awareness of reproductive issues for both males and females. Existing efforts to provide information on reproductive health to students need to be expanded and new strategies developed. Particular attention should be paid to increasing awareness of the benefits of family planning, the early onset and rapid rate of organogenesis, the benefits of folic acid, and the importance of addressing health-related issues.
KeywordsAwareness Preconception Pregnancy Reproductive health Students
The author would like to acknowledge the efforts of Rina Espinosa and Nirmala Maharaj in preparing this manuscript.
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