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Describing the Use of the Internet for Health, Physical Activity, and Nutrition Information in Pregnant Women

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine how pregnant women in the Midwestern United States use the internet for health information during pregnancy including information related to physical activity and nutrition, and to determine the impact of the internet on women’s confidence in making decisions about physical activity participation and eating behaviors during pregnancy. This was a descriptive, exploratory study using a convenient, non-probabilistic sample. Women were recruited through handouts provided in person, fliers posted at venues, or local websites that cater to women who are pregnant or up to 1 year post-partum. Overall, 293 women (28.5 years ± 4.9) completed the survey online (Survey Monkey) or in-print. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, paired t tests, and analyses of covariance. Almost all women used the internet for health information during their pregnancy. Half of women used the internet for information related to physical activity during their pregnancy and some increased their physical activity as a result. Women reported an increase in their confidence for making decisions related to physical activity during pregnancy after using the internet for physical activity information. Women that reported increases in physical activity during pregnancy, had greater increases in confidence for making decisions from using the internet compared to women who decreased or did not change their physical activity. Findings related to nutrition were similar to physical activity. However, there were no significant differences in increases in confidence between those who did or did not change the foods they ate. This study provides health promotional professionals useful information to consider when designing future physical activity and/or nutrition interventions for pregnant women.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge Mary Balluff, MS RD LMNT, for her contribution to this project. This project was funded by a University of Nebraska Omaha Funds for Investing in the Research Enterprise (FIRE) grant and a grant from Alegent Health.

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Correspondence to Jennifer Huberty.

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Huberty, J., Dinkel, D., Beets, M.W. et al. Describing the Use of the Internet for Health, Physical Activity, and Nutrition Information in Pregnant Women. Matern Child Health J 17, 1363–1372 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-012-1160-2

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