Research Alert

Background: Pregnancy serves as an important chapter in the life of women since more attention needs to be paid to both their physical and psychological health during this period. Adequate prenatal knowledge plays a key role in ensuring the health and safety of not only the pregnant women but also their fetuses and the entire family. With the development of information technology, web-based prenatal education has been brought into focus owing to its accessibility to comprehensive information, with high-quality information available to improve the quality of the overall gestation period, labor process, perinatal outcomes, and fetal outcomes.

Objective: This study aims to investigate the present situation of web-based prenatal education and to predict the future research direction of web-based prenatal education in China, thereby providing insights into improving the quality of health care of pregnant women.

Methods: A national cross-sectional study was conducted on 590,912 pregnant women in 31 provincial administrations of mainland China between August 2018 and August 2019. These pregnant women were initially recruited from local hospitals across the nation during antenatal and postnatal periods via a web-based education school. Demographic information and course completion status (including the categories and the number of courses they completed) of all the participants were collected.

Results: A total of 590,912 pregnant women participated in the web-based prenatal education in 2018. Among them, 188,508 (31.90%) participants were excluded because they did not complete any course, while 17,807 (3.01%) actively participated in web-based prenatal education and completed more than 100 courses. There were 5 categories of web-based courses; almost half of the pregnant women attended the courses on first and second trimesters (293,262/590,912, 49.63% and 298,168/590,912, 50.46%, respectively). We found that pregnant women were more concerned about the gestational diet, fetal-related knowledge, and other precautions before the labor.

Conclusions: In the era of digitalization where information is rapidly disseminated, web-based prenatal education could become a more convenient, productive, and effective pathway for pregnant women since it could help them obtain adequate and optimal pregnancy-related information and gain more intellectual awareness about their pregnancy or preparation for pregnancy.

Journal Link: Journal of Medical Internet Research

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Journal of Medical Internet Research