The use and value of digital media for information about pregnancy and early motherhood: a focus group study.BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2016 07 19; 16(1):171.BP
Many women in countries in the global North access digital media information sources during pregnancy and the early years of motherhood. These include websites, blogs, online discussion forums, apps and social media platforms. Little previous research has sought to investigate in detail how women use the diverse range of digital media now available to them and what types of information they value. A qualitative study using focus groups was conducted to address these issues.
Four focus groups were held in Sydney, Australia, including a total of 36 women who were either pregnant or had given birth in the previous three years. The participants were asked to talk about the types of digital media they used for pregnancy and parenting purposes, why they used them and in what ways they found them useful or helpful (or not). Group discussions were transcribed and thematically analysed, identifying the dominant information characteristics identified by women as valuable and useful.
Nine characteristics emerged from the focus group discussions as most important to women: information that was: 1) immediate; 2) regular; 3) detailed; 4) entertaining; 5) customised; 6) practical; 7) professional; 8) reassuring; and 9) unbiased. These characteristics were valued for different purposes and needs. Digital media provided women with details when they most needed them or at times when they had opportunities to access them. The study showed that women value apps or digital platforms that are multi-functional. The findings revealed the importance of using digital information for establishing and maintaining social connections and intimate relationships with other mothers. However, participants also highly valued expert advice and expressed the desire for greater and more ready access to information and support offered by healthcare professionals.
Pregnant women and those with young children place a high value on the information and support they receive from and sharing using online sources and apps. They are accustomed to ready and immediate access to information using digital technologies and want better access to that offered by professionals. Recognising and finding ways to meet these needs should be included in planning healthcare provision and support for this group. Further research with women from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds and non-urban locations is required to identify whether they have different information needs and values from the women who were included in the study reported here.