April 20, 2024

Importance of Coaching in Lifestyle Programs for Women Preparing for Pregnancy

A recent study conducted by researchers at Monash University has highlighted the significant role of coaching in lifestyle programs designed for women planning pregnancy. The research, led by the Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation (MCHRI), emphasizes the importance of personalized support from health professionals in optimizing women’s engagement and motivation in such programs. The study, published in Nutrients, focused on the evaluation of the OptimalMe healthy lifestyle program.

OptimalMe is an online and phone-and-video-based program aimed at empowering women to enhance their health through healthy dietary habits, regular exercise, and weight management before and during pregnancy. The program also offers valuable information on preconception care guidelines. Coaching sessions within OptimalMe utilize a personalized digital preconception health checklist to help participants set sustainable lifestyle goals, develop action plans, and receive feedback and positive reinforcement from coaches. The research findings indicated that women’s participation and use of the program significantly increased when they had access to personalized coaching support alongside engaging digital content. However, usage of the digital platform declined once coaching sessions concluded.

Associate Professor Cheryce Harrison, in collaboration with Professor Helena Teede and a dedicated team, spearheaded the OptimalMe program. The study revealed that women planning pregnancy value credible and accurate information to enhance their health and appreciate the opportunity to work with health professionals for guidance and motivation. The researchers discovered that personalized coaching is essential in keeping women well-informed and engaged.

OptimalMe was provided free of charge to over 300 Medibank members, with 90% of participants expressing a willingness to recommend it to others planning pregnancy. The program is currently undergoing updates, with a new version focused on pregnancy and post-partum care set to be launched for women at Monash Health. The ultimate aim is to make the program accessible to women nationwide, including the inter-conception period between pregnancies.

One participant, Kate Pryce, shared her positive experience with OptimalMe, stating that the program offered comprehensive information in an easily understandable format, reassuring her with guidance from health professionals. Pryce highlighted the value of face-to-face coaching sessions in addressing her queries and prompting her to seek further advice from her doctor.

Another analysis of the program demonstrated its effectiveness in encouraging women to adopt positive lifestyle changes, such as reducing alcohol consumption. Dr. Bonnie Brammall underscored the significance of personalized coaching as a fundamental aspect of lifestyle programs.

Professor Teede emphasized the ongoing development of a user-centric digital platform supported by coaching to accompany women through their pregnancy journey, focusing initially on those within Monash Health. The study’s outcomes advocate for the scalability and cost-effectiveness of remotely delivered health promotion programs, with potential applications across various healthcare domains.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it