Curbing excess gestational weight gain in primary care: using a point-of-care tool based on behavior change theory



International Journal of Women’s Health 2018:10 609–615

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Helena Piccinini-Vallis and Michael Vallis


Introduction: Excess gestational weight gain (GWG) is a risk factor for several adverse outcomes for mothers and their offspring. In Nova Scotia, Canada, approximately 60% of women experience excess GWG. Outside the pregnancy arena, a patient-centered approach has been shown to promote increased patient adherence to clinician recommendations, and increased intentions for, and attempts at, behavior change. The 5As of Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain is a tool that assists clinicians to have patient-centered discussions about GWG. This feasibility trial examined the association between training in the use of this tool and women’s self-efficacy to manage GWG, readiness to adhere to GWG guidelines, perception of their clinicians’ patient-centeredness when discussing GWG, and guideline concordance of total GWG.

Method: Participants were 11 family physicians who provide prenatal care and 24 of their patients who were pregnant. Physicians were randomly assigned to a single 60-minute training session in the use of the tool or usual care. Consenting patients completed measures of social sup-port, stress, patient-perceived patient-centeredness, self-efficacy, and motivation. At the end of each woman’s pregnancy, data pertaining to guideline concordance of GWG were collected.

Results: Comparison of patient participants with prenatal care providers in the trained and untrained groups showed no significant difference in patient-perceived physician patient-centeredness when discussing GWG, self-efficacy to manage GWG, readiness to adhere to GWG guidelines, or GWG congruence with the guidelines.

Conclusion: This feasibility study required very little time commitment and entailed minimal disruption to clinicians’ practices. Nonetheless, it was very difficult to recruit clinicians for the study. Although recent theory-driven work showed that prenatal care providers have, overall, high perceived self-efficacy in discussing GWG with their patients, most studies have demonstrated that these providers do not often discuss GWG with their patients; so, there is clearly a mismatch in their perceived self-efficacy and what actually transpires.