Health Disparities

Presentation Title (IN ALL CAPS)

Incorporating Health Literacy to Better Understand Gestational Weight Gain

Departmental Affiliation and City, State, Zip for All Authors

The University of Texas, 1 Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations 300 West Dean Keeton, A1200, BMC 4.338, Austin, TX 78712; School of Nursing, 1710 Red River St., Austin, TX 78701; The University of Texas, 1 Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations 300 West Dean Keeton, A1200 and Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health 1616 Guadalupe, Suite 6.300 Austin, TX 78701

Classification

Non-UNTHSC Faculty

Research Presentation Category

Health Disparities

Brief Narrative or Summary

Only about 25% of women gain the appropriate amount of weight during pregnancy, where approximately half of pregnant women in the US gain excessive weight during this important time. This has a host of negative outcomes for both the mother and the child including macrosomia, perinatal complications, and greater maternal weight following pregnancy. However, existing research on factors related to gestational weight gain focuses on distal or mediating factors (e.g., body image), which are difficult to change. Health literacy is the degree to which a patient can find, understand, use, and communicate about health information in an effort to make informed health decisions. The focus of this project was to apply a health literacy focus to research conducted in the field of gestational weight gain. A focus on health literacy in gestational weight gain research could save healthcare providers time and resources - rather than looking at each component of health literacy separately, a global focus on health literacy could yield improved rates of gestational weight gain.

Scientific Abstract

Approximately one-half of women in the US gain weight over the suggested amount during pregnancy. This has crucial health implications for both mother and baby. There are a number of factors thought to influence this weight gain including body image, social support and stress. Health literacy is a patient's ability to find, understand, use, and communicate about health information in an effort to make informed health decisions. This factor is thought to be more patient-centered and changeable than the factors currently known to influence gestational weight gain (GWG). The purpose of this project was to review GWG literature to determine whether existing research takes into account the concept of health literacy. A literature search was performed using the words "gestational weight gain" in combination with health literacy-related terms as outlined by Jorm's framework on mental health literacy and Berkman’s definition of health literacy. These included "attitudes," "beliefs," "knowledge," "ability," and "health literacy." There were 30 articles included in the final sample. Only two of the studies directly assessed health literacy, while one-third of the articles did not address any aspect of health literacy. Almost 60% assessed attitudes or beliefs (77%) toward GWG. Over half of the studies involved participants of low socioeconomic status. Results from this scoping review suggest that future GWG research should measure general health literacy rather than focusing on individual aspects. This would shed light on how patients struggle with this type of information. Health literacy may be a more actionable factor that impacts GWG.

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Incorporating Health Literacy to Better Understand Gestational Weight Gain

Approximately one-half of women in the US gain weight over the suggested amount during pregnancy. This has crucial health implications for both mother and baby. There are a number of factors thought to influence this weight gain including body image, social support and stress. Health literacy is a patient's ability to find, understand, use, and communicate about health information in an effort to make informed health decisions. This factor is thought to be more patient-centered and changeable than the factors currently known to influence gestational weight gain (GWG). The purpose of this project was to review GWG literature to determine whether existing research takes into account the concept of health literacy. A literature search was performed using the words "gestational weight gain" in combination with health literacy-related terms as outlined by Jorm's framework on mental health literacy and Berkman’s definition of health literacy. These included "attitudes," "beliefs," "knowledge," "ability," and "health literacy." There were 30 articles included in the final sample. Only two of the studies directly assessed health literacy, while one-third of the articles did not address any aspect of health literacy. Almost 60% assessed attitudes or beliefs (77%) toward GWG. Over half of the studies involved participants of low socioeconomic status. Results from this scoping review suggest that future GWG research should measure general health literacy rather than focusing on individual aspects. This would shed light on how patients struggle with this type of information. Health literacy may be a more actionable factor that impacts GWG.