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How A Lack Of Information About COVID-19 Impacted Pregnant Australians

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Pregnant women wanted more timely information early in the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, new research has found.

Health services are rapidly trying to reorient care and services in response to the pandemic, but more proactive communication about the impact of COVID-19 on obstetrics is needed because pregnancy does not stop during a pandemic.

“We found that women want timely and targeted information about the impact of COVID-19 on their pregnancies and babies,” said Ms Cassandra Caddy, lead author of a paper published in the journal PLOS last week.

“A lack of information makes some people feel stressed, anxious and depressed, and may lead to more negative experiences during pregnancy and childbirth.”

Using Data from the TIGER C19 Project – Tracking public opinion The researchers found that information about COVID-19 in Australia on Reddit and Twitter, as well as interviews with 21 pregnant women in Australia between March 2020 and July 2021, health service, pregnant woman Turn to informal channels such as social media instead.

Study participants described how pregnancy and parenting groups social media The platform gave them a wider space to ask questions about COVID-19 and their pregnancy, and to see that they were not alone.

But it also risks exposing them to misinformation, especially myths about the safety and potential side effects of COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr Alyce Wilson, Burnet Honorary Senior Fellow and the paper’s senior author, said this reiterated the importance of health services providing timely, clear, consistent and accurate advice.

“in a public health crisishealth services need to be proactive in delivering targeted and accessible information,” Dr Wilson said.

In situations where things are changing very quickly, it may be helpful to withhold statements, rather than delay messages or say nothing, the study found.

“For example, when we went into another lockdown, the health service said, ‘We will let you know as soon as possible how this will affect antenatal care,'” Dr Wilson said.

“Or, ‘We care about these things too, and we’re trying to find out the latest information for you,’ rather than waiting until a plan is in place.”

The researchers acknowledge that health services are under enormous pressure in very unpredictable times, but they believe much can be learned from the pandemic to improve communication strategies in future emergencies.

In addition to information about the risks of COVID-19 to pregnant women and their babies, women also described a need for practical information, such as the location of maternity wards and where partners can park their cars during labor.

Fewer face-to-face visits limit opportunities to gather this useful information.

“There was a sense of disconnection, ‘I’m still in the hospital giving birth, but I don’t actually know where the delivery room is,'” Ms Cardy said.

Many participants also wanted more opportunities for interaction and real-time discussions, rather than just watching pre-recorded videos instead of face-to-face prenatal classes.

For example, participants described how it might be helpful to have a midwife at the hospital go online for an hour a day so people could jump on and ask them questions.

Or, hospital staff will take expectant parents on a virtual tour of the hospital so they can mentally prepare for where the delivery will take place.

“We found that the message was very powerful in making women feel more in control, less anxious and more empowered,” Ms Cady said.

“This study provides pregnant women themselves with practical advice on how we can best provide this information during a public health crisis such as a pandemic.”

More information:
Cassandra Caddy et al., ‘Tell us what happened’: Exploring the information needs of Australian pregnant and postpartum women during the pandemic through ‘tweets’, ‘topics’ and women’s perspectives, PLOS (2023). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0279990

Provided by the
Burnett Institute

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How lack of information on COVID-19 affects pregnant Australians (19 January 2023)
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