Enhancing safety in maternity care: using digital technology and activity tracker to tackle maternal obesity

PhD Project | Michaela Senek | m.senek@shu.ac.uk

Supervisory Team 

Professor Hora Soltani | h.soltani@shu.ac.ukProfessor Madelynne Arden | m.arden@shu.ac.uk
Advisors: Professor Tom Farrell, t.farell@sth.nhs.uk Dr David Rogerson | d.rogerson@shu.ac.uk

Background: Over half of maternal mortality is associated with overweight and obesity during pregnancy in the UK with little or no support in gestational weight management to prevent associated obstetric risks.  Digital platforms (e.g. Social media)   with a potential to reach widely at a low cost, can be used to deliver complex interventions founded upon behaviour change techniques to enhance self-care and reduce the risk of obesity during pregnancy.

Aim: To examine the deliverability of a PA intervention in pregnant obese women using social networking technology and remote activity-monitoring tracker in order to reduce adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes in obese women.

Method: This is a mixed methods feasibility randomized controlled trial that uses a social media platform (a closed Facebook group) and a Fitbit tracker. The intervention is developed using the COM-B model as per NICE guidelines, to deliver self-monitoring, goal-setting and 'information about health consequences' behaviour change techniques (BCTs). Forty participants with a BMI of ≥30kg/m² are randomized at 12 weeks gestation to a 5-week long Facebook-mediated walking intervention.

Anticipated Outcomes: This project is exploring the feasibility of recruitment, attrition, measurement and trial procedures in the pregnant, obese population.

Secondary outcomes: gestational weight gain, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, blood pressure, mode of birth, birthweight,   APGAR Score

Summary of progress: Data collection has been completed.  Data analysis and drafting of a paper for publication of the outcomes, facilitators and challenges of using social media in pregnant obese women is being undertaken.

Impact: This feasibility RCT will inform the suitability of the protocol design for a future full-size RCT within the National Health Service addressing issues such as effectiveness, cost, time and risk. This ultimately will inform future strategies to reduce short and long- term weight related risks for mothers and their offspring.