Behaviour change opportunities at mother and baby checks in primary care: A qualitative investigation of the experiences of GPs

Hannah Talbot, Emily Strong, Sarah Peters, Debbie M Smith

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    Abstract

    Background Pregnancy is widely recognised as a ‘teachable moment’ for healthy behaviour change and the postnatal period has been identified as the opportune time to initiate this change. In the UK, all women are offered a routine health check at 6–8 weeks postpartum with their GP. This provides a potential opportunity to facilitate long-term behaviour change discussions.

    Aim To explore GPs’ views and experiences of using the postnatal check as a health-related behaviour change opportunity.

    Design and setting A qualitative, inductive study in general practice.

    Method Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 18 GPs. Audiorecorded interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis.

    Results One theme emerged from the data: the postnatal check is an unrealised opportunity to facilitate health-related behaviour change. This theme was organised into three subthemes: opportunity for health-related behaviour change; role responsibility; and patient-led versus GP-led behaviour change.

    Conclusion Although GPs recognise the postnatal check as a potential opportunity for health-related behaviour change, it is underutilised as they do not perceive this to be the purpose of the check and are uncertain as to their role in facilitating lifestyle changes. To enable this long-term lifestyle behaviour change opportunity to be utilised more fully, further research is needed to understand women’s expectations of the postnatal checks and the scope for further recommendations, guidance, and communication training around behaviour change.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)e252-259
    Number of pages9
    JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
    Volume68
    Issue number669
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2018

    Keywords

    • general practice
    • behaviour change
    • postnatal check
    • 6-8 week check
    • qualitative
    • thematic analysis

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