Mobile Health Technology in Prenatal Care: Understanding OBGYN Providers’ Beliefs About Using Technology to Manage Gestational Weight Gain

  • Erica L. Rauff
  • Danielle Symons DownsEmail author


High gestational weight gain (GWG) is linked to adverse maternal/infant outcomes. Scant research has examined OB/GYN providers’ (1) beliefs and barriers to using mobile health (mHealth) technology and (2) their perceptions of patient beliefs/barriers for using mHealth technology for managing GWG. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups with OB/GYN providers (N = 25) were conducted in person and via telephone. Principles of thematic analysis were used to content analyze the interviews; sample size was determined via data saturation. Most providers did not use technology when providing prenatal care (94%), recommended public websites for patients to obtain health information (72%), and reported a smartphone/tablet as the ideal tool for clinical care (83%). Providers also believed mHealth tools would be beneficial for high risk patients (e.g., overweight/obese; 67%). For the use of mHealth tools in clinical care, the most salient provider barriers were lack of time (78%), costs (61%), facility/technology issues (56%), and lack of provider willingness to adapt to change (44%). The most important provider-perceived patient barriers were access (72%) and lack of interest (67%). These findings suggest some OB/GYN providers may be open to using mHealth technology in prenatal clinics to help their patients manage GWG if the technology is time efficient, and both providers and patients can overcome barriers. The success of incorporating mHealth technology for diet/exercise counseling in prenatal clinics will lie in making it time efficient and interesting for the patient. Novel strategies to overcome provider and patient barriers are essential.


Technology Gestational weight gain Healthcare providers 



Support for this work has been provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health through grant 1R01HL119245-01 and by the Pennsylvania State University Clinical & Translational Science Institute TL1 Award TL1TR00012.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

This research study involved human participants, and thus, ethical standards including informed consent and institutional review board approval were obtained.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kinesiology DepartmentSeattle UniversitySeattleUSA
  2. 2.Exercise Psychology Laboratory, Department of KinesiologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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