Regionally based medical practitioners may need support when prescribing exercise to pregnant women

Melanie Hayman*, Camille E. Short, Peter Reaburn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Physical activity (PA) undertaken in accordance with exercise during pregnancy guidelines is associated with a variety of health benefits.1 Despite these health benefits, very few women are sufficiently active during pregnancy.1 International research suggests that medical practitioners (MP) play a vital role in assisting women to exercise during pregnancy, with exercise counselling by MP found to be effective and feasible in increasing PA levels in pregnant women.2

An increase in visits to MP during pregnancy places MP in a unique position to offer consistent PA/exercise counselling and support.2 Specifically, pregnant women see their MP up to 11 times over the course of an uncomplicated pregnancy,2 compared to the general population who see their MP at least once a year.3 Furthermore, MP advice is a powerful motivator to increase PA levels because of the MP's perceived credibility and authority,4 especially among pregnant women who may consider pregnancy as the opportune time to implement healthy lifestyle changes. However, previous research suggests MPs may not be promoting exercise in accordance with recommended guidelines or utilising screening tools to assist in the exercise prescription process.

International research also suggests that MP receive no formal training in exercise prescription for pregnant women and that many MP lack confidence in their exercise counselling abilities and knowledge.2 However, no study to date has examined these factors in an Australian context. The importance of having MP provide PA/exercise advice is amplified in rural, remote and regional [Extract] Australia where PA levels are lowest, and access to specialist health care services, such as antenatal care, is less accessible than in urban Australia.5 These factors place individuals living in rural, regional and remote areas of Australia at increased health risk.5 Thus, interventions that aim to increase PA through MP counselling are warranted. To inform intervention development, insight into what MP currently know about exercise during pregnancy is needed. This study aimed to examine the level of awareness of exercise during pregnancy guidelines and associated screening tools, training received, and degree of confidence in offering exercise prescription to pregnant women in a sample of MP based in Rockhampton, Australia. This study was approved by the CQUniversity Human Research Ethics Committee (H13/06‐123).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-63
Number of pages2
JournalAustralian Journal of Rural Health
Volume25
Issue number1
Early online date21 Apr 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes

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