Cindy-Lee Dennis, Sarah Brennenstuhl, Hilary Brown, Rhonda C. Bell, Flavia Marini, Catherine Birken, High-Risk Health Behaviours of Pregnancy-Planning Women and Men: Is there a Need for Preconception Care?, Midwifery, 2022,103244,
To examine the prevalence and predictors of high-risk health behaviours in pregnancy-planning women and men.
Cross-sectional online survey.
Canadian women (n=529) and men (n=92) self-identifying as planning a pregnancy within 5 years, recruited through email and social media
Health behaviours examined included smoking, alcohol and cannabis use, internet addiction, low physical activity, overweight and obesity, eating habits, and sleeping less than 6 hours/night.
Prevalent preconception high-risk health behaviours in both women and men were low physical activity (women 44.9%, men 38.8%), overweight and obesity (women 52.5%, men 64.9%), and unhealthy eating habits (women 42.8%, men 55.8%), while men had a significantly higher prevalence of cigarette smoking (women 4.9%, men 12.0%, p=.008) and alcohol use (women 19.6%, men 40.7%, p<.001). The mean number of high-risk health behaviours in women was 2.1 (SD=1.37) compared to 2.5 (SD=1.37) in men (p=.001). Significant predictors of a higher number of high-risk health behaviours included multiparity, low education and depression in women, and higher perceived stress in men.
There is a high prevalence of high-risk health behaviours in women and men actively trying to conceive or planning to achieve pregnancy soon. Health promotion should be a key component of preconception health interventions for both women and men as part of a life course approach to optimizing population health.
Implementation for Practice
Findings demonstrate modifiable targets for preconception programs and factors that can be used to identify at-risk groups requiring intervention. Individual-level interventions require societal changes that promote healthy behaviours through better health policies and strong public health messaging.